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Understanding Your Beauty Label

Understanding Your Beauty Label

"Understanding Your Beauty Label"The simple fact is we all want to look our best. Even when we say we’re having a “bummy” day to rock some sweats and go to the grocery store. So, we search for the best beauty products for our hair, skin, and nails not only to look effortless when we know getting ready can be a full-time job, but also to maintain moisture, youthfulness, and overall health. Finding that right product isn’t just some arbitrary task; it can be detrimental to your health. 

Our bodies are our temple, and what we put in our bodies should be just as important as what goes on our bodies. Much like any other healthy lifestyle choices, it all comes down to doing your research and understanding the labels. Women of color, black women especially, are known to be more susceptible to toxic ingredients in beauty products. Here’s everything you need to know to start making smart decisions when purchasing beauty products:

Reading the Label

When you look at product labels, ingredients will usually be listed in descending amounts of concentration. The highest concentration is first and it goes down to the least. Cosmetic ingredients are not required to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), potentially putting consumers at great risk. The US only bans 11 hazardous ingredients in cosmetics. The state of California is the exception, staying above the curve with the “495: THE TOXIC-FREE COSMETICS ACT” that bans 20 cosmetic ingredients in the state. 

Now, decoding ingredients and diligently reading and rereading labels isn’t always going to feel like an exciting or even productive use of time. Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a skin-deep working database that can be utilized to determine if products are safe as they go through their approval process using hazardous ratings from 1 to 10. One (1) being less and (10) being the greatest.  According to the EWG, hazards linked to product ingredients can include cancer, hormone disruptions, developmental and reproduction damage, allergies and other adverse health effects.  

What to Avoid 

Dr. Tayiana Reed, founder of The Wellness Apothecary, shared some ingredients you should avoid all together:

-Formaldehyde: still using or have used perms in the past that contain formaldehyde can be  cariogenic (cancerous) 

-Talc: Johnson & Johnson talc powder, for example, causes reproductive issues for women 

-Sulfate: known to have effects on the kidney 

-Coloring containing alternatives and dyes: can also be cariogenic

-Octisalate, Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, and Homosalate: all chemicals that you’ll find in a sunscreen. “The FDA only deemed two products safe that’s used as ingredients in sunscreen which is “Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Dioxide”. If you’re purchasing sunscreen that contains any other ingredients outside of those two, the ingredients are cancerous. 

-Propylene glycol: ingredients that have “ol” in the suffix have propylene glycol derivatives. For example, if a product says it contains no alcohol, it shouldn’t have any ingredients with “ol” in the suffix.


-Silicones: studies have proven these to be potentially hazardous, however, it’s at the bottom of the list because they are the safest out of these ingredients. On labels you’ll see “non-comedogenic”, meaning it won’t cause clogging of your pores. Silicone derivatives can cause clogging of your pores, making it difficult to lay on your product.


Now Apply it 


Don’t feel like you have to memorize all the names of the ingredients that you are supposed to avoid. There are so many resources, like these following apps, that can help you identify clean beauty products:

-Think Dirty

-Good Guide

-EWG’s Skin Deep

-Detox Me


Processing all this information can be overwhelming, and understanding medical terms can take time. Take it slow in the beginning. Dive into the products you heavily use now and, with this new information, check for any present harmful agents. Cleanse your beauty routine of all toxicity. Go online shopping with your girlfriends, and try experimenting with the brands and products that put you and your health first. Do whatever feels right for you in your journey to wholesome and natural beauty.