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How to Read Skincare Ingredients Labels 

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When you choose a skincare product, it is vital to have a look at its list of ingredients and do not blindly trust the advertisement promises. It doesn’t matter whether you buy skincare in an expensive shop, pharmacy or a supermarket, if it’s a famous brand or a small unknown company. All that matters is THE INGREDIENTS LIST.

Only it can reveal the truth about skincare quality and efficacy. Understanding the list of ingredients is easier than you expect... and after a while you’ll need only a few seconds to decide whether a skincare product is worth buying.


Choosing the right skincare is important not only for our skin beauty, but also for theenvironmental protection: for example, petroleum-based ingredients not only are bad for skin, but also increase environmental pollution!

How is the ingredients list structured?


The list of ingredients has to be indicated on the label by law. The ingredient lists follow the rules of the INCI system

(International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients). Firstly, we see the word “ingredients”. It’s the beginning of the

ingredients list. After that, the first ingredient mentioned is the one which has the highest concentration in the product.

The second one is the one with the second highest concentration and so on, until the 1% concentration boundary is

reached. Ingredients with the concentration of less than 1% may be listed in any order after those whose

concentration is at least 1%.

Basically, the further away is an ingredient from the beginning of the ingredients list, 

the smaller is its amount.

Understanding the list of ingredients is easier than you think!


Currently, the inventory of INCI-registered ingredients comprises more than 17000 names and the list is continuously growing. How to understand whether an ingredient is good or bad for your skin even if you are not a chemistry expert? We’ve developed some tricks to make it easy for you!


Trick 1: Latin language is a good sign!


Rule of thumb:


if you see an ingredient whose name is coming from the Latin language, it is most likely of natural origin. Have a look at our examples and get a feeling of latin (botanical) names:

  • Sweet almond oil = Prunus amygdalus dulcis

  • Argan tree kernels oil = Argania spinosa oil

  • Edelweiss extract = Leontopodium alpinium extract

  • Glycerin extract of laminaria alga = Glycerine, Laminaria digitata


Some additional hints


Natural ingredients used for making gels contain a latin name + the word “gum” in their denomination. Examples: Acacia senegal gum, Xanthan gum, Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (Guar) gum. Natural ingredients coming from the plant cell culture have a latin name + the words “stem cells”. Example: Centella asiatica stem cells. Waxes can be of both natural and non-natural origin. Natural waxes are good for skin and can be easily identified by their latin name + the word “wax”. Examples: Copernicia Cerifera (carnauba) wax, Cera alba, Rice (Oriza sativa) bran wax.



Trick 2: Save the names of these most widespread NATURAL ingredients!



We’ve selected for you the most frequently used natural ingredients that are skin- and environment-friendly. In most cases they are derived from the coconut, palm or olive oils,natural sugars and wheat. If you see the components listed below in the ingredients list, it’s a good signal! All you need is to have this list close to you when buying skincare.




Cetyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol, Cetearyl wheat straw glycosides, Glyceryl stearate, Potassium stearate, Methyl glucose sesquistearate, Glyceryl oleate, Glyceryl stearate, Potassium hydroxide, Sorbitan olivate, Cetearyl olivate, Sorbitan olivate, Sodium stearoyl lactylate, Sucrose stearate, Polyglyceryl-3-diisostearate, Polyglyceryl-3-polyricinoleate, Sucrose laurate.


What's the function of emulsifiers? Find out now!


Natural Tensioactives


Sodium cocoamphoacetate, Coco glucoside, Decyl glucoside, Sodium lauroyl glutamate, Lauryl glucoside, Coco glucoside, Glyceryl oleate, Babassuamidopropyl betaïne, Sodium cocoyl glutamate, Sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate, Sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, Sodium coco-sulfate, Sodium cocoyl isethionate, Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate.


Natural actives


Hydrolyzed wheat protein, Hydrolyzed rice protein, Silk amino acids, Hydrolyzed Oats, Chitin, Beta-glucan.


Hyaluronic Acid


The INCI name for the valuable and very popular nowadays hyaluronic acid is Sodium hyaluronate or Hyaluronate de sodium. Hyaluronic acid can be of biotechnological origin or made from animal body parts. Unfortunately, by simply looking at its name in the  ingredients list you cannot say whether it’s a biotechnological hyaluronic acid or an animalunfriendly one. In our products, we use solely hyaluronic acid of biotechnological origin.


Please note: usually the maximum concentration of hyaluronic acid in the final product is about 1%, so it should be mentioned towards the end of an ingredients list. Don’t trust advertisement that promises 10% concentration of hyaluronic acid: this is impossible and makes no sense due to technological reasons.


Natural Preservatives


Euconostoc / Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Lactobacillis Ferment, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract.



Trick 3: Save the names of these most popular GOOD NON NATURAL ingredients!




Nowadays, peptides are the most innovative ingredients, which at the moment can be made only synthetically. They are particularly interesting for us because of their great anti-ageing and skin-repair effects. Moreover, peptides are unlikely to cause allergy. They work on a cell level, and their excellent properties are confirmed by the profound scientific research.


It’s quite easy to recognize peptides in the ingredients list: usually, their name ends with "-peptide". Examples: 


Acetyl Hexapeptide -8, Acetyl Hexapeptide -30, Pentapeptide -18, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide -7, Acetylarginyltryptophyl Diphenylglycine, Diaminopropionoyl Tripeptide -33, Hexapeptide -10, Dipeptide, Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide -5, Palmitoyl Dipeptide - 6, Diaminohydroxybutyrate, Tripeptide -10 Citrulline.


Safe preservatives


These preservatives are considered more or less safe, some of them are certified by ECOCERT and are also used in the food production:


Benzoic Acid, Sorbic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid (DHA), Benzyl alcohol, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate.


While many skincare producers claim that they don’t use preservatives in their skincare, this is not true since even a non-natural skincare without added preservatives will go bad very soon. To claim this, they simply use preservatives which have not only some skinuseful (primary) function, but also a function of preservatives. 


Unlock other secrets of skincare producers


Vitamins, minerals, other acids


Although they are mostly of non-natural origin, they are widely used in skincare due to their positive effects on the skin. Have a look at the ingredients list of vitamins or other  food supplements you are taking - some of the names you see there you will also find in skincare! Examples:


Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (this is the INCI-name of vitamin C), Niacinamide (vitamin B3), Tocopheryl Acetate (vitamin E), Zinc oxide (zinc), Panthenol (provitamin B5), Lactic acid, Salicylic acid, Silica.


Trick 4: Avoid these BAD ingredients!


The ingredients listed below are quite often used in skincare production because of their cheap costs and other properties that simplify production process. However, they either harm your skin and health or (and) increase the environmental pollution. If you see one of them in the ingredients list, please don’t buy this skincare product - and your skin and the environment will be very grateful to you!


Petroleum-based ingredients


Most widely used ones are:


Mineral Oil, Paraffinum Liquidum, Petrolatum, Sodium laureth sulfate, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Ammoniun lauryl sulfate, PEG, PPG, Propylene Glycol.




Silicones do not harm the skin (but also do not improve it). However, their production has a negative effect on the environment. Usually INCI-names of silicones end with “-thicone”:


Dimethicone, Amodimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Poliquaternium-80.




Not only parabens harm the skin and the environment, but, according to some scientists, may also lead to breast cancer. They end with “-paraben”:


Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben.


Ingredients with high allergy risk


The most widespread ones are:


Triclosan, Imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM Hydantoin, Methylisothiazolinone, Methylchloroisothiazolinone.


Other harmful ingredients


Avoid skincare containing these:


EDTA, MEA, TEA, MIPA, colourants, large amount of glycerine (if you see glycerine in the beginning of the ingredients list).


Find out why large amount of glycerine is harmful for your skin



Let's have a look at the ingredients list of a famous brand!


We took a “moisturizing” facial cream of one VERY famous luxury brand as an example. The explored cream costs about 100 euros. Let’s have a look at its ingredients list to decide whether it is worth buying!

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Silica, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Pentylene Glycol, Octyldodecanol, PEG-40 Stearate, Camellia Kissi Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/ VP Copolymer, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter Extract, Phytosteryl Canola Glycerides, Phenoxyethanol, Saccharide Isomerate, Cetyl Alcohol, Steareth-2, Dimethicone, Parfum (Fragrance), Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Carbomer, Lauroyl Lysine, Propylene Glycol,PEG-12, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Citrate, Phytic Acid, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, Tocopherol, Propylparaben, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ethylparaben, Sodium Benzoate.


plant or natural origin | dangerous chemical ingredients | ingredients that are meaningless for the skin | viamins 

We immediately see that glycerin comes in the second place right after the water, meaning that this face cream contains a lot of glycerin. Glycerin is quite often used as a moisturiser, however its moisturising effect is very short-lasting, and in the end glycerin makes skin even drier than it was before. Large amount of glycerin in skincare is an absolute bad sign!


Moreover, this facial cream contains 3 types of parabens, which can be considered dangerous as according to the opinion of many researchers they might cause cancer. It includes even the petrochemicals (e.g. propylene glycol, PEG-40, PEG-12). After seeing this, there is no sense in further exploring the ingredients list. It is obviously that you should keep your hands and your skin away from such a facial cream regardless of what active components it includes. And even if we have a look at the natural active ingredients, we will see that their concentration is too low to have a big effect since they are located in the middle and at the end of the list. The rest of the components, which are mostly of chemical origin, are used to make the cream look and smell nice as well as to increase its expiration period, however their impact on the skin is rather negative.

Application Test

After applying this expensive cream to our skin, we didn’t feel any significant moisturization. It was also quite sticky when applying. In an hour we felt that our skin became even drier, which is normal when using a cream with such a high amount of glycerine. We are sure that even top quality chemical ingredients like glycerine cannot be as effective and feel as good on the skin as the natural and biotechnological ingredients!


Exploring the ingredients list of our anti-age cream AtempoBell

Let’s have a look at the list of ingredients of the Creatura Libera anti-age cream for any skin type.









plant origin | natural origin  | certified by Ecocert |peptides

We immediately see Latin botanic names of plant oils right after water, which means that their concentration is very high. The marula, cotton and baobab oils used in this cream are not only very valuable but also rare, and their properties are simply amazing: they are able to regenerate, moisturise and nourish skin as well as slow down skin ageing. Such natural oils also give you a very pleasant feeling.

Dodecane, Cococaprylate: natural ingredients derived from the coconut and palm oils. We add them to make cream structure nice and even, so that the cream is absorbed quickly and isn’t sticky. It’s a great natural alternative to silicones! Moreover, it doesn’t lead to the environmental problems and also has a moisturising effect.

Glyceryl stearate & Methyl glucose sesquistearate are natural emulsifiers (serve to mix oil and water). Glyceryl stearate also moisturises, whereas Methyl glucose sesquistearate builds a protective film on skin.


Biosaccharide gum-1 & Biosaccharide gum-2 are natural biotechnological ingredients obtained by the fermentation of bacteries. They show great moisturising and calming effects, stimulate skin cell renewal and protect from external aggressions.


Brazilian ginseng root juice & Arginine PCA:  together, they improve microcirculation and skin's neuronal communication. Arginin PCA stands for salt of arginine pyroglutomate, aminoacid that is naturally present in our bodies.

Propanediol & Glycerine form the basis of plant extracts used in the cream, without them, it would be impossible to extract active components from plants.

Boerhavia diffusa root extract  (punarnava extract) is derived from the root of punarnava plant. It evens out skin tone, has whitening and antioxidant actions.

Silica (silicium) is a natural mineral that makes complexion glowing.

Parfum: we use only natural fragrances.


Lecithin & Sodium hyaluronate stand for liposomes of hyaluronic acid, which provide deep moisturisation, fill in small wrinkles and nourish. 


Benzyl alcohol, Dehydroacetic acid are safe preservatives certified by ECOCERT.

Xanthan gum: natural ingredient that is also used in food production. It makes emulsion stable.

Palmitoyl Tripepide-5: it's an active ingredient based on a small peptide, stimulates collagen production and reduces wrinkles. Peptides, or skin molecular messengers, are synthesised in laboratories as otherwise they would have to be produced from people's skin.  

Helianthus annuus hybrid oil (sunflower oil) & Simmondsia chinensis seed oil (jojoba oil): another basis of plant extracts.

Lithospermum erythrorhizon rott extract: extract of purple gromwell plant.

As you could see, in the AtempoBell anti-age cream 99.2% of ingredients are of natural origin. Moreover, we didn’t add any useless components: most ingredients are active and their concentration is high enough to get the best out of them.

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