Things to know before using cosmetic products

Every time you turn over your favorite face cream to look at label, you feel lost? Seeing all that jargon confuses you so much that you give up on trying to make a smart choice of ingredients and go with whatever their marketing tag line screams? Finding that perfect face wash, one that washes away all the grime but also is gentle on your skin is as hard as seeking a soul mate. Fret no more, we are here to your rescue!


  • Expiration Date

First step. Check for the expiry date ALWAYS. Chemicals can lose their effect and/or become harsh post their expiration date, which in turn could hurt your skin and hair.

  • Look for skin compatibility

Check whether it is compatible for you depending on whether you have dry, oily, and normal or combination skin type. Depending on your skin tone, you can opt for warmer color palette or a cooler color palette for make-up cosmetic products.

  • Read label

Check whether the product is dermatologically tested or not. FDA approved (for American products) and GMP & ISO approved (for Indian brands).

  • Monitor the ingredients

All the chemicals that are added in the product are listed on the label. Everything is listed under its scientific names or as nerds calls them- INCI (International nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names. There is no need for you to do a master’s degree in chemistry to try to find out which ones are good for you. We suggest you follow The First 6 Rule. Due to regulations, companies list out the names of the ingredients from highest to lowest concentration/volume. First 6 names end up comprising about 80-90% of the product.

You should try to stay clear from the names ending with the following: –

  1. Sulphate: – They rip off the natural oils of your skin. Leaving it dry.
  2. Silicone: – Used in a lot of foundations and primers, they trap your pores, giving you that glossy ‘no pore’ look. This blocks the pores and prevents the skin from “breathing”. This results in acne, blackheads and dullness.
  3. Mineral Oil- You may be wondering that anything having the word ‘mineral’ in it-how can that be bad? Well, this is another name for Paraffin oil-a petroleum by product. It is harmful for the skin.
  4. Parabens: – Avoid these at any cost. They not only harm your skin but can cause cancer in the long run and disrupt the endocrine system. A Lot of products in the market now claim to be paraben free-look closely at the substitutes.
  5. Formaldehyde and Glyoxals: – They cause allergies and make your skin dry.
  6. Polyethylene- Usually found in scrubs exfoliants. They are the little plastic beads that help to remove dead skin cells. They have carcinogenic substances and are easily absorbed by our skin.
  7. Go “Fragrance” free

A lot of companies do not disclose the chemicals used to create artificial fragrances. Majority of them are carcinogens. Better to buy fragrance free products whenever possible.

  • SPF never hurts

Dermatologists suggest using sunscreen if minimum SPF30 for protection against both UVA & UVB rays. Since, most of us do not apply enough sunscreen, it is always better to buy cosmetic products with SPF content.

  • Patch test

Before purchasing the cosmetic product, it is always recommended to do a patch test. Best done on skin behind your ears. This region while is sensitive but not too sensitive at the same time.

  • Do not fall for the Organic brigade

Just because they claim to be Organic doesn’t mean they are completely chemical free products. Usually even if a single ingredient is natural oil extract, it can be labeled as “Organic”. Also, just because something is naturally extracted does not mean they cannot irritate the skin. Go back to point no. 6 and do the patch test.

While this list is not exhaustive, this does cover the basic steps to follow before using any cosmetic product.

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