If you haven't already, check out our previous post on how to interpret ingredient lists on skincare and cosmetic products.
There are some common ingredients to avoid in the ingredient list. If you see a product containing the following ingredients, you might want to think twice before purchasing.
Fragrance - known also as "Parfum". This is a catch-all term for any synthetic chemicals that make products smell good. One simple name, "Fragrance" could represent up to 200 different type of chemicals in the product, and on average it represents up to 30-50. This is one of the primary sources of contact allergy, those with sensitive skin should avoid at all cost.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate - A cleansing agent that produces copious, creamy, luxurious foam. Unfortunately, it is also very irritating. So much so that it is commonly used in dermatological studies as an irritant. Another common and very similar ingredient is Sodium Laureth Sulfate, this one is gentler, but still potentially irritating.
Alcohol - as mentioned above, alcohol in INCI terms refers to ethanol. It's popular because it is a great solvent and penetrates deeply into the skin, but it is extremely drying and pretty harsh on the skin.
Methylisothiazolinone - a very effective preservative only used in wash off products like shampoos and washes (any ingredient that belongs in this category should be avoided. Quite irritating.
Hydroquinone - a common ingredient in skin whitening products. Bleaches the skin by reducing the amount of melanin. Quite irritating to many, ironically works better for lighter skin tones and could actually worsen hyperpigmentation in darker skin tones. Often appears in concentrations that are too high for the "whitening" effect. Why not try Black Seed Pure oil instead with it's naturally occurring active ingredient thymoquinone that also helps with pigmentation?
Some other ingredients to avoid: Dmdm Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea.
It would be impossible to list down all the ingredients to avoid, in general, we recommend: avoiding products with insanely long ingredient list, and looking up individual ingredients on INCI Decoder. Be skeptical of particular long chemical names.
We recommend going for products with a short and easily understandable ingredient list. The INCI ingredient list might not reveal everything about a product, but understanding it can surely contribute to wiser skin care decisions.