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How to translate your skincare product’s ingredient list

How to translate your skincare product’s ingredient list

Ever taken a gander at the back of your skincare products and wondered what the heck you’re even looking at? Sure your moisturiser might have the word aloe vera printed on the label in bold but how much of that precious plant based nutrition are you actually getting in every pump? Here at Kindred Toxin Free, Lily and I spend hours ensuring that every product we use is not only effective but made from exceptional natural and cruelty free ingredients, so if you’re wondering about how you can ensure your products are up to the job, here’s our guide to how to translate your product’s ingredient list.

Know your product

Demystifying the contents of your skincare starts with flipping to the back of the label and reading your ingredient list. Your ingredients will be listed in the order of volume used, meaning from the first ingredient is most likely to be the most prominent in your product.. Now take a long hard look at those first three ingredients, those will make up approximately 50-85% of your product. Translation - If your product promotes itself to contain luxury ingredients like rose, prickly pear seed or sea buckthorn oils or similar and yet pops it towards the end of the the list of ingredients - well you can imagine how little  it actually contains. However, while this is usually a warning sign that you’re not getting what you pay for, bear in mind that some active ingredients only need to 0.5% - 1% to be effective (we’re looking at you retinol).

Flip it over and reverse it

Now that you’ve established your top ingredients, take a look at the bottom of the list. Down here is where you want to see your colour pigments (because not all rose based products are naturally pink), scents and preservatives. While these words may ring alarm bells for you, it doesn’t mean it’s time to throw your entire skincare range in the bin, check to see if these handy helpers are derived from natural or plant based sources and make your assessment from there.

A rose by any other name...

How are you gardening skills? Think you can name a plant just by looking at it? Mind if you tell us how to do that? Either way, if you’re not lucky enough to have an encyclopedic knowledge of botany, you can still roughly guess which names sounds like they originally came from the garden and which came from a lab (hint: plants don’t usually have numbers after their names). If you’re still unsure, there’s nothing like a quick Google search (or a slow flip through an copy of Gardening Australia) to put your mind at ease. If you can’t find a single plant sounding name in your list of ingredients, then that should tell you everything you need to know about your product.


Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink? It shouldn’t surprise you that you’ll find water listed as an ingredient in most of your beauty and skincare products. It’s an ingredient that helps to balance your product’s consistency and absorption - however, remember what we said about those tops 3 ingredients! If the volume of the water in your product is so prolific as to be listed as either the first or second ingredient it means that it is required to balance an extremely strong antimicrobial preservative. Want some extra assistance in demystifying your skincare’s buzzwords? Cosmetics Info has a helpful glossary to guide you.

Our ultimate rule of thumb when it comes to choosing a natural product that works for you? Do your best to keep it simple and natural as possible. If you don’t feel comfortable eating it, then you might want to think twice about slathering it on your skin 1-2 times a day. And as always, if you require any extra assistance in finding the right product for you, feel free to ask Lily or myself during your appointment for a prod in the right direction.