Skin Care Product Labels And Terminology
Are you looking for the best products for your skin? Then you probably rely on label claims such as fragrance-free and hypoallergenic to help you in your hunt. The hitch: despite wide-spread use, there are no standard definitions for such terms, and no one regulates how they should be employed - some companies abide by their own strict interpretations, while others aren't as careful. Still, you don't want to discount them. Labels can give you a good starting point for picking the right products. So learn precisely what the jargon on your tubes and jars means - and doesn't mean.
You Think It Means: A skin specialist found the product to be effective and non-irritating.
The Reality: Testing can vary widely. A dermatologist may have given the product to staffers to try or she may have conducted a legitimate, controlled trial. Some companies conduct fresh trials for their skin products, whereas others conduct clinical trials like pharma products. They are tested on different skin types: high pigment, low pigment, dry, very dry, oily to normal, and also on Asian skin types.
When It's Done Right: A large-scale study on carefully selected, randomised volunteers will have been carried out. Such testing is the norm for big brands such as Olay, Neutrogena, L'Oreal, and Vichy. Other tip-off that the derm-tested claim is valid: the package insert may elaborate on the role the doctor played in the testing.
You Think It Means: The product is unscented and won't irritate the skin.
The Reality: Fragrance free usually means that no scents were added, and this does not reduce the likelihood of allergy for women with sensitive skin. Don't be surprised, though, if a fragrance-free product has an aroma. Ingredients have their natural aroma too. Products labelled 'unscented', on the other hand, do contain low levels - less than 1% - of fragrance, called masking agents, to cover up the sometimes unpleasant natural odour of raw materials.
When It's Done Right: Companies are aware that it's usually women prone to fragrance sensitivities who shop for these products, so those containing any form of fragrance will have undergone a battery of safety checks to ensure that they don't irritate or cause allergic reactions. Despite a product's claims and what's mentioned on the label, it's always a good idea to check for ingredients you know might irritate your skin.
You Think It Means: Products labelled this way aren't as likely to cause allergic reactions.
The Reality: Cosmetics manufacturers aren't required to substantiate this claim, so it can mean whatever a company wants it to. Some marketers use it in a meaningless fashion, while others test their products on panels of people with allergic potential. These products are definitely less allergic than others.
When It's Done Right: No reputable company would ever release an allergenic product, which is why it's best to purchase brands that you know and trust. Certain brands have built reputations on avoiding allergenic ingredients and testing for sensitivity.
You Think It Means: It won't clog pores, which cn lead to blackheads and whiteheads (comedones, in medicalese) and acne.
In Reality: The pore-plugging powers of ingredients are often evaluated by applying them to a rabbit's ear - a test that's far from foolproof, given that our skin is very different from rabbit's skin.
When It's Done Right: Reputable companies always test final products - not just individual ingredients - for comdogenicity in controlled trials. A trained technician will examine panelist's skin and count their existing blemishes. After testers use the product as specified, their skin is re-examined. If there is a dmamatic increase in pimples, the company either won't release the product or won't make the claim. Non-comedogenic products should have less paraffin or oil-like ingredients that trigger acne and other break-outs.
You Think It Means: There's no oil in the product to clog pores.
In Reality: Oil-free products don't contain ingredients - such as mineral or plant oils - classified by the CTFA as oils. But they might still include oil-like emollients such as silicones, waxes and vegetable fats, that can trigger outbreaks in some cases.
When It's Done Right: It's virtually impossible to make cosmetics without oil-like ingredients. They're often used to give products a silky feel or to bind ingredients together. If your skin is acne-prone, it's wiser to choose a non-comedogenic product over one labelled oil-free. Opt for madical brands and water based serums and cosmetics.