Skincare ingredients list


What is the first thing you look for when picking up a new skincare product? Does the logo grab your attention or is it the mighty packaging that your eyes get stuck on? Fancy packaging and catchy lines on the labels can make you buy something that might not be suitable for you. All your attention should be towards the skincare ingredients label, which has all the important information needed, but in a very complicated way that is mostly hard to decipher. There are even a lot of unpronounceable words that you might have no idea what purpose they have. So, let me guide you on how to read skincare ingredients label now!

Your glamour and charm are what outstands you, taking the time to care for yourself is neither indulgence nor luxury but rather a necessity. There are products that might seem quite appealing and captivating but that does not mean all of them contain skincare ingredients that are safe to use or effective for your skin. 

A lot of products contain ingredients that can cause damage to your skin, so they need to be avoided. The understanding skincare ingredients label is getting popular and must-do in Korea. How would you know which ingredients suits your skin well, which aren’t, and how will you get the understanding of those long, technical names? Here you will have a quick overview of the essential information you need for reading and decoding a skincare ingredient label.  



How the skincare ingredients label is structured and displayed on your product is commonly known as INCI. INCI stands for “International Nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients” and it is a system of naming products based on scientific nomenclature. NCI list demands some time from you to read and investigate it. 

The INCI informs you about the specialty of your product in terms of the ingredients present in it. This can be a way to find whether there are some ingredients such as allergens that you need to avoid, or does it contain ingredients that suits your skin.   


To know about certain Allergens:

Allergens are listed at the end of the INCI list which can cause allergic reactions to many. They are made up of natural synthetic fragrances or essential oils and are possibly 26 in number. Most of the time companies place an asterisk in front of it or italicize that which ingredients are essential oil allergens. 

What suits your skin the most? 

Picking the right active skincare ingredients for your skin depends on which skin problem you want to address. For example, if you want to reduce signs of aging that include dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, etc. you need to look for a product containing Retinoids. It is a form of Vitamin A that stimulates the skin-cell-shedding process from underneath the skin that in turn reduces signs of aging by leaving the skin smooth enough. 


There are companies that highlight certain ingredients to attack people but in actual it is present in a very low quantity. Thus, it cannot produce the desired effect so what you need to do is check the list according to the ingredient’s quantity (discussed below).

Some will make you believe that the product is ‘organic’ by mentioning it on the product, although it might not be the case. So, understanding the whole label is necessary. You can use EWG Skin Deep, CosDNA, or INCIdecoder for that purpose which are skincare ingredients cheekers. You will find information about these checkers later in this article. 


Every skincare ingredient label mostly has its list of ingredients mentioned on the packaging. Sometimes it is present on the actual tube or cover and sometimes it is present on the outer packaging. We can also find them underneath the barcode. It is necessary for the company to mention the ingredients list on the product either on the box, underneath the barcode, or on the leaflet. 


Here are some tips for understanding skincare ingredient lists:

Active Versus Inactive Ingredients

The ingredients on the list are present in high concentration at the start of the list which means ingredients are listed in descending order of concentration. The ingredients that are present at a concentration of less than 1%; are placed at any order. 

An active ingredient is the one that has a specific function for a specific condition. For example, benzoyl peroxide is present in products used specifically for acne and adenosine for anti-aging. Inactive ingredients are for cosmetic benefits or they serve the purpose to support active ingredients. 

There can be some exceptions, for example sometimes if a label has active ingredients, then instead of listing the inactive ones according to their concentration, the more likely list the inactive ingredients in alphabetical order. This makes it somehow challenging when you are trying to avoid higher amounts of some ingredients.

Rules of Low Concentrations

As mentioned above anything that is present at concentrations of below 1% is less likely to be listed in any order. There can be certain guidelines for that as well.

What makes the bulk of formula?

It is mostly the first 5-10 ingredients that are present in high concentrations, the concentrations afterward are low.

Organic ingredients

If the list starts with the chemicals and the end of the list shows few organic ingredients that means natural ingredients are present only in traces. 


If you spot this label on the product’s packaging it means it is suggesting that this product is most suitable for oily skin because it prevents whiteheads and blackheads. If your skin type is oily then you should go for non-comedogenic products to avoid clogged pores. 


How much time the product is safe to use for humans after opening is what you need to know. PAO means ‘period after opening’, some products even have the letter ‘M'(months) in bold with a number next to the letter e.g. 6M. That means you can use that product 6 months after opening it. 


To prevent any allergic reactions try buying products that are free of any artificial fragrances. If you have sensitive skin, you should opt for products that are on the label as hypoallergic. They are less likely to cause any allergy and try applying products on your wrist before applying it directly to your face.


EWG skin deep


It is a cosmetic database that tells people how to protect themselves from potentially toxic chemicals that they use every day in the form of beauty products. It has launched a list that gives a hazard rating for nearly 70,000 products and 9,000 ingredients on the market.

Purpose of using EWG Skin-Deep

Many products contain certain chemicals that are associated with several serious health problems, including cancer, hormone disruption, development, and reproductive problems and allergies. 

EWG’s Skin Deep has transformed the cosmetic market with its online system so that you get fewer toxic ingredients. The database contains information about possible health concerns associated with certain ingredients. 



CosDNA is a user-submitted product database that functions by breaking down the product’s ingredient list. They give you the rating of any ingredient based on the function they perform. It is used by medical providers to see what possible problems can be caused due to certain ingredients. 

How to use CosDNA

What you need to do is to type in the name of a product in the search box or you can copy-paste the ingredients list. CosDNA will check every ingredient in it and will rate it accordingly from zero to five. 



It is a blend of technology and cosmetic science knowledge that creates a tool that makes you able to analyze the ingredients in products. 

The INCIDecoder rating system:
  • Superstars: This means the product is potentially good for the skin as the ingredients are well researched. 
  • Goodie: A little lower than superstar rating and it tells you that an ingredient generally does something nice for your skin.
  • Icky: This rating shows the product has some ingredients that cause problems to your skin, like fragrance allergens or irritants.
  • No rating: Ingredients like emulsifiers or thickeners, that are there in products for its making but do not perform any major function for skincare. 

WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT Skincare Ingredients?

Taking care of your skin is absolutely worth the time and energy as it determines your appearance. Skincare is a part of a healthy lifestyle; you will feel better when you look better. Talking about skincare the most important thing is prevention. Preventing your skin from sun and dust is essential. Thus using a good product that suits your skin best is what you need. The smart choice of products that you buy means that you are making smart choices throughout your life. 

Proper skin care means using ingredients that help to keep our outer layer of skin intact. This layer performs a lot of functions such as maintaining the skin’s overall hydration and it also protects us from the outside harsh environment. So, taking care of it must be our priority. 

Using this guide will make you able to choose proper skin products by checking skincare ingredients label that helps preserve this important protective layer. I hope this will certainly help you out in making the best choices for your skincare.

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