How to: Be Ingredient-Conscious

How To: Be Ingredient ConsciousOne of the biggest changes I’ve made to my beauty routine is being more ingredient-conscious and I’d like to share a few of my tips with you so you can learn to take more control of what you put on your face.

Being “ingredient-conscious” means being mindful of what ingredients are in the products you are using. This includes things like reading labels and learning what some of the common ingredients are and where they come from. I think of this as a learning process and something that is specific for each person.

Your reasons for wanting to be ingredient-conscious might vary but mine were:
1) I wanted to start removing chemicals such as parabens, pthalates, and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and moving towards more natural products.
2) I’ve developed allergies over the past few years that have caused me to pursue #1 a bit more quickly. So far the allergies I’m aware of are chemical sunscreens (like avobenzone & homosalate) and certain artificial fragrances both of which can trigger my headaches.

Whatever your reasons may be, I’ve got some simple tips and helpful links to help you along in your journey to be more ingredient-conscious.

The first step is really easy: just take a little time and start reading the labels/ingredients lists for products before you buy them. Here is an example for you:

Ingredients for the Green Beauty Cosmetics Light Tinted Sunscreen

Ingredients for the Green Beauty Cosmetics Light Tinted Sunscreen

Here is the list of ingredients: distilled water, aloe vera gel, zinc oxide (9.5%), sesame oil, plant based emulsifiers, titanium dioxide (4.8%), avocado oil, organic coconut oil, vegetable glycerin, hyaluronic acid, oat flour, soybean lecithin, Geogard Ultra, iron oxides, cocoa butter, essential oil of orange, geranium, ginko bilboa leaf extract, olive leaf extract, rooibos leaf extract, white tea extract, green tea extract, tocopherol, xanthan gum.

Now let’s look at some of these ingredients:

Plant Based Emulsifiers: although the specific emulsifiers aren’t listed, the basic purpose of these is to help ingredients combine smoothly instead of separating like oil and water.

Hyaluronic Acid: The word “acid” seems to make people feel uncomfortable, but hyaluronic acid is a proven ingredient that helps keep your skin moisturized.

Geogard Ultra: I knew right away by the name that this was probably a preservative and that is exactly what it is. However, it is paraben free and is approved for use in organic cosmetics and there are no completely natural or organic preservatives.

Tocopherol: This is one I learned when I first started looking at ingredients. Tocopherol is vitamin E, or more specifically it refers to compounds with vitamin E activity.

It took me maybe 5 minutes to look those things up and I could have easily done it almost as quickly on my phone.

The second step, which we’ve already ventured into is simply learning what some of the ingredients are. Soon you’ll start recognizing them and you won’t have to look them up every time.

I suggest starting with a few of your favorite products and learning what some or all of the ingredients in those products are and what they do.

Here are a couple good websites to search to find out more about specific ingredients you might find in your makeup and skincare products:

EWG’s Skin Deep Database – this database has tons of information on a lot of common products, but you can also search for specific ingredients which is helpful for smaller indie brands that probably aren’t listed individually in the database.

Paula’s Choice Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary – this dictionary can be read alphabetically, sorted by ingredient use/purpose, or you can search in the bar at the top and click the Ingredient Dictionary Results tab.

You can also always use Google as a quick method and most times it will return information from one or both of those sites in my experience which I find particularly helpful when I’m using my phone and browsing in the Ulta store.

I hope you’ve found this introduction to being more ingredient-conscious helpful. Let me know in the comments a couple of the ingredients you looked up and what their purpose is.


Naturally Well Preserved

Wikipedia: Tocopherol

What on Earth is Hyaluronic Acid? (And Why Should You Care?)

Ingredient Concious

Products shown are:

Green Beauty Cosmetics Light Tinted Sunscreen, Green Beauty Cosmetics Light Eye Brightener, and Sheri’s Soap Opera Prim-Rose Face Cream.