Table of contents:

What do the words on cosmetics packaging really mean?
What do the words on cosmetics packaging really mean?

A concise dictionary for translating labels into human language.

What do the words on cosmetics packaging really mean?
What do the words on cosmetics packaging really mean?


The Latin prefix "hypo" means "lower than usual." This means that the mark "hypoallergenic" on the box with cream or lipstick says that the remedy, most likely, will not cause allergies, but it does not give a 100% guarantee that there will be no negative reactions of the body.

Hypoallergenic cosmetics usually try not to use ingredients that irritate sensitive skin or may exacerbate dermatological diseases. However, the reaction to this or that component is individual. In addition, the hypoallergenicity of cosmetics is not regulated by standards, therefore it remains on the conscience of the manufacturer.

How to find out about the hypoallergenicity of cosmetics

Information about hypoallergenicity is also an excellent marketing ploy, so it is usually placed right under the name of the product.

Who needs hypoallergenic cosmetics

People with moody and sensitive skin and a tendency to allergies. Moreover, there are usually no dubious ingredients in such cosmetics, so the presence of such products is justified in any cosmetic bag.


Owners of problem skin are probably aware of the existence of comedogenic components in cosmetics. These are the ingredients that clog pores and trigger acne and inflammation. These include some natural and mineral oils, isopropyl myristate, isopropyl isostearate, and others.

Non-comedogenic cosmetics most often include water-based gels and light creams. However, the appropriate marking does not guarantee that after the cleansing mask you will not get even more clogged pores.

How to find out about the non-comedogenicity of cosmetics

The corresponding mark is usually found under the title. If it is not there, you will have to draw conclusions on the composition of the product. If it contains oils (Oil or Butter), Acetylated Lanolin, Isopropyl Isostearate, Isopropyl Myristate, Isopropyl Palmitate, Isostearyl Laostearate 4 Laureth-4), Myristyl Lactate, Myristyl Myristate, Octyl Palmitate, Octyl Stearate, Oleth-3, PEG 16 Lanolin, Propylene Glycol Monostearate (Propylene Glycol Monostearate, Stearyl Heptanoate, it is likely to be comedogenic.

Who Needs Non-Comedogenic Cosmetics

Owners of problem skin that responds to clogged pores to any new product or external influence.

Clinical Trials

This term means that a product has been tested for safety and efficacy in accordance with rigorous scientific standards.

The promises that the cream smoothes wrinkles, and mascara lasts 30% longer than popular counterparts, are confirmed by laboratory studies. Although no one can say with absolute certainty that the results of such studies are always honest and guard the consumer's interests, the mark “clinically tested” on the packaging most often indicates the high quality of the product.

How to know if clinical trials have been conducted

Detailed information about clinical trials can be found on the company's website or on the information insert in the package with the tool.

Who Needs Clinically Proven Cosmetics

Those who believe in science and want at least some guarantees that the product will have the effect promised by the manufacturer.

Based on Consumer Trials

Advertisements often contain loud statements like "this shampoo doubles hair volume", which are accompanied by a small print at the bottom of the screen or page: "based on consumer test."More honest manufacturers indicate that 231 women used the product for two weeks and the majority noted a 2-fold increase in hair volume.

Consumer test is the provision of a product to users for trial. This allows manufacturers to assess the potential success of a product and collect feedback on it. Test results are based on subjective perception of the product, not scientific evidence.

How to know if a consumer test has been run

This is purely a marketing ploy, so it is hardly worth looking for such information on purpose. However, the manufacturer simply will not let you miss it: this data will be in advertising, on the website, on the packaging.

Who Needs Consumer Test Cosmetics

For those who are addicted to advertising, as the information about the consumer test says nothing about the cosmetics themselves. With the same success, you can read reviews about the tool on the Internet. But if on a specialized site user comments can still pretend to be objective, then the information from the manufacturer will always be beneficial to him first of all.


According to most European certifications, cosmetics are considered natural if at least 95% of the components in it are produced from natural raw materials and only 5% are synthesized in a laboratory. Some companies that certify products also impose requirements for the environmental friendliness of raw materials, the absence of GMO ingredients.

However, there is no single standard for assessing the naturalness of cosmetics. Therefore, the label "natural" on the packaging can only be a marketing ploy.

How to find out about the naturalness of cosmetics

It is worth looking for a mark on certification by specialized companies: Ecocert, CosmeBio, BDIH, Natrue.

Who needs natural cosmetics

For those who are ready not only to find a mark on naturalness on the label, but to go further in their research. Not all synthetic ingredients are harmful or they would not be used. And not all natural ingredients are healthy. For example, many of them can cause allergies. Therefore, it is advisable to be well versed in the properties of the ingredients and learn how to read the composition of the funds.


Such a mark is placed on cosmetics that are made from ingredients grown without the use of fertilizers or other chemicals or collected from the wild. Ingredients obtained from dead animals or from petroleum distillation are prohibited.

Although not all natural cosmetics are organic, all organic cosmetics are natural. In its manufacture, rather allergenic components are often used, for example, beekeeping products, so it is not absolutely safe.

How to know if cosmetics are organic

Organic cosmetics are certified by Natrue, Eco Control, NSF, USDA, Soil Association. Marking one of them on the label indicates compliance with the standards in the manufacture of products.

Who needs organic cosmetics

Meticulous amateurs fully understand the composition and fierce opponents of the use of chemistry.


Alcohol in this case refers to its varieties with a low molecular weight, such as ethanol. These ingredients have a drying effect and can dehydrate even oily skin. Owners of dry and sensitive skin should avoid alcohol in cosmetics even more carefully.

At the same time, the label “does not contain alcohol” does not apply to cetyl, stearyl, lanolin and other alcohols, which are used as emulsifiers or solvents and do not have such a harmful effect on the skin as their ethyl counterpart.

How to find out if there is alcohol in cosmetics

If there is no Alcohol-free mark on the front of the label, you should study the composition. Components such as Ethanol, Denatured Alcohol, SD Alcohol, Ethyl Alcohol, Methanol, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Benzyl Alcohol should be alerted.

Who needs alcohol-free cosmetics

Owners of capricious, dehydrated and dry skin.


Parabens are esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid widely used as preservatives. Some scientists believe that parabens can be hazardous to health, although most of the available toxicity data for these components comes from one-time studies.

Because of the fierce controversy surrounding the ingredient, cosmetics labeled Paraben-free are popular. Although, instead of parabens, more dangerous components can be used as a preservative.

How to know if there are parabens in cosmetics

The best way to spot parabens is to read the composition. These components will be hidden behind words ending with -paraben. The most dangerous are methylparaben (Methylparaben), ethylparaben (Ethylparaben), butylparaben (Butylparaben) and propylparaben (Propylparaben).

Who needs paraben-free cosmetics

Parabens are poorly studied, therefore, one cannot say unequivocally about their harm. However, in many countries, limit values for these components have been determined. In Russia, 0.4% of parabens are allowed in cosmetic products and 0.8% in a mixture of esters. If you have the time and desire to find funds without this component, why not look for them.

Without SLS (SLS-free)

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is used in the cosmetic industry as a cleansing and foaming agent. It is not harmful to humans, but may cause dryness and irritation with prolonged contact with the skin. Therefore, it is used only in rinse-off products: foams, cleansing gels, shampoos. For sensitive skin, it is recommended to skip SLS products.

How to know if there is SLS in cosmetics

In the composition, sodium lauryl sulfate is most often at the top of the list.

Who needs cosmetics without SLS

People with dry and sensitive skin. They are better off looking for cosmetics with less aggressive cleansing ingredients.

Active Ingredients

These are the components that significantly affect the condition of the skin. Active ingredients include retinoids (structural analogs of vitamin A), vitamin C, AHA, PHA and other acids. They vary in effect: some exfoliate, others trap moisture in the skin, such as hyaluronic acid.

The activity of a component is influenced by its pH: the lower it is, the more aggressive the ingredient is on the skin. Therefore, you need to pay attention not only to the percentage of the ingredient, but also to the acidity level.

How to find out about the presence of active ingredients in cosmetics

Usually they are mentioned first in the composition of a cosmetic product, and their percentage can be part of the name.

Who needs cosmetics with active ingredients?

Such products should be avoided by people with dermatological problems. The rest should just follow the precautions: follow the instructions and do not neglect the sunscreen for the face.

Essential Oil

Essential oil is a volatile liquid with a characteristic strong odor, isolated from plant material. Unlike conventional oils, it does not leave greasy stains and evaporates quickly. In cosmetology, it is used in conjunction with a base fatty carrier, which determines how the component penetrates the skin.

Essential oils have different properties: antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, regenerating. In their pure form, they can cause irritation or allergic reactions. There is also an individual intolerance to this or that essential oil.

How to find out about the presence of essential oils in cosmetics

If the composition of the product is written in Russian, then it will contain essential oil. In the list in English, this component will appear as Oil. It can be distinguished from non-essential oils by its position in the list (the essential oil will be indicated closer to the end) and by the plant from which it was extracted (if these are not olives, but flower petals, then we are talking about essential oil).

Who Needs Essential Oil Cosmetics

People without a tendency to allergies and with a love for the specific smells of essential oils, as well as those who believe in aromatherapy.