It is usually a sensational experience to stroll through the beauty products section of a supermarket. One can see well-stocked shelves full of eye-popping colors and containers of all sizes and shapes. The products are made in bulk and stored in a warehouse to ensure the supply meets the demand. This waiting period is called shelf life. Product preservation ensures the products maintain their intended form and effectiveness while awaiting a buyer.
A simple explanation of shelf life is the amount of time a product remains usable in a sealed (unopened) form. Virtually every product has some shelf life. Beauty products are no exception.
The shelf life depends mainly on its ingredients, container design, storage conditions, and use. Advances in manufacturing and storage, chemistry, engineering, and our ability to synthesize resistant structures have improved the shelf lives of most products.
Beauty and cosmetic products can have a shelf life of three years or more. In general, products made with synthetic chemicals and a higher amount and number of preservatives would have a longer shelf life. If you are reading this, we need not discuss such products and the impact of harsh chemicals and preservatives on the skin and the environment!
What is the shelf life of organic beauty products? Many people ask. Is a product with longer shelf life better? Do some people wonder why the shelf life of beauty products with a higher amount of natural and organic ingredients is shorter?
Let’s delve into the basics.
Organic means produce grown without chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulators, antimicrobials, or similar compounds. Organic produce is grown on soil that is unexposed to prohibited materials for at least three years.
Well, how does being organic or natural change shelf life? Not much. If a product is made with organic or biological substances and contains synthetic stabilizers and strong preservatives, it can have longer shelf life while preserving the “organic” or “natural” label.
A simple example would be apples treated with a resistant coat vs. apples treated without any such treatment. The apples treated with synthetic antimicrobial and coated with wax or similar material will resist forces of nature and stay fresh for a more extended period. However, apples treated without any such treatment would easily get spoiled once plucked.
With this understanding, let’s explore further. What is the ideal shelf life of a beauty product?
Oils, being fatty acids, are naturally resistant to spoilage and microbial growth and typically last two to three years. Once water or water-containing ingredients are added (typically in creams and lotions), the shelf life reduces drastically. Preservatives are generally required for water and water-containing products to minimize microbial growth.
Alcohol is the most common preservative used in beauty products. Alcohol is readily available, cost-effective, and has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. Alcohol is the most common cause of skin irritation from the use of beauty products as well.
Salt, Citric acid, and Potassium Sorbate are food-grade preservatives used for centuries to preserve water-containing products. Newer, bio-based preservatives have revolutionized our ability to protect beauty products without adding harsh chemicals.
What happens after a beauty product is opened?
Microbial contamination occurs once a product is exposed to air or fingers or applicators get into it. Also, the oxidation process starts, and the effectiveness of ingredients starts to change. Using a product within 30 to 45 days of opening generally provides the most intended benefit.
Let’s reverse the course. Is a product with one-year shelf life more effective than a product with a three-year shelf life?
It depends upon the ingredients. As we discussed above, if a product is 100% oil, it might remain effective for two to three years.
How can I quickly access the quality of beauty and cosmetic products?
The front label of a product, also known as the principal display panel is the most visible part of a beauty product’s packaging. We recommend reading and understanding the ingredient label on the side or back panel regardless of the print on the front label. Some products may have one or two ingredients derived from nature, thus claiming it to be natural and the rest of the ingredients being harsh chemicals and strong preservatives.
Another commonly seen labeling practice is to mention an attractive element on the front panel (such as “made with real almond oil”) where the advertised ingredient is relatively tiny. A prospective buyer may easily misunderstand the product as natural and containing a significant amount of advertised ingredients.
While there are regulations to protect the buyer, buyers should do their due diligence and ensure they fully understand what they intend to use, including product ingredients; this is the easiest way to ensure you get the product you intend to purchase.
A simple example would be reading the label of a shower gel. Are you getting natural soap or just a mixture of foaming agents?
Many foaming agents (also known as surfactants) are naturally derived, but too much foam can strip the skin of its friendly oils. Is it made of high-quality oil (such as organic Olive oil) or a mixture of different oils if you are getting natural soap? The ingredient declaration label provides such vital information. Have you felt dry and itchy skin after a shower? Time to read the ingredient label of your favorite shower product!
In summary, the shelf life of a beauty product depends upon its ingredients and type and number of preservatives used, container design, storage conditions, and method of use. Alcohol and other harsh chemical preservatives help achieve a longer shelf life while causing skin irritation, dryness, and itching. Well-known food-grade preservatives such as salt, citric acid, and potassium sorbate and newer bio-based preservatives effectively replace harsh chemical preservatives. Oil products generally have a longer shelf life, even without any preservatives. Reading and understanding a product’s ingredients label provides excellent insight into reality.
Disclaimer-This website and content, comment, writing, or authors/contributors/writers do not provide or suggest medical, legal, or professional advice, opinion, or service. The information shared on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
-Key Areas of a product label (Anatomy of a Label).
-What information goes on a product label?
-Understanding the “Ingredients” myriad.
-Decoding the signs and symbols.
-Reading the fine print.
This post will cover the basics of information that can be found on a product label. The labeling of cosmetic products is regulated differently by each country or continent. However, most large-scale producers of cosmetic products follow a standard format that complies with most regulations placed worldwide.
For a cosmetic product, the label on the product bottle or packaging is often the most important selling point. The shape of a bottle, the appearance of the product, colorful art, and overall appeal make a product attractive to a prospective buyer.
What is a Product Label?
A label is a matter (written, printed, or graphically expressed) affixed to a consumer commodity and/or its package.
Key Areas of a Product Label.
A product label is divided into the Principal Display Panel (PDP), and Informational Panel (IP). In general, PDP refers to the “front” or the “main” display area by which the products are displayed to a prospective buyer/consumer. Certain vital information about the product is required to be displayed on the Principal Display Panel. Informational Panel mostly contains additional details about the product. Products with a lid or jar may have an additional display panel.
What Information Goes on a Product Label?
The PDP of a label contains the following:
1) Product Identity- Is it a soap, cosmetics, butter, lotion, cream, ointment, shampoo?
2) Net Quantity of Contents- in Ounces, Fluid Ounces and in Milliliter, or Grams.
3) Brand Name of the Product or the Manufacturer.
4) Additional Advertising Elements such as Discount labels affixed to PDP.
The Informational Panel is often referred to as the back panel. In general, the following information is placed on the IP:
1) Ingredients Declaration in INCI and common name formats.
2) Name and Place of Business (Manufacturer or Retailer).
3) Phone number or Website of the Business.
4) Warning Statements, if any.
5) Directions of use, if any.
Understanding the Ingredients Myriad.
The Anatomy of a Label with its Principal Display Panel (PDP). The back panel (IP) of a cosmetic product has ingredients list in INCI and a common name format. Please refer to our blog post- Cosmetic Product Contents for more information.
Decoding the Signs, and Symbols.
Many manufacturers use various symbols that denote various instructions, processes, and peculiarities. Some of the symbols are identified here.
Reading the Fine Print.
The size of printed information on the label depends upon the size of the product packaging. Small packages often have very small size letters and it is common to have warning statements and directions of use printed in very small font sizes. One must read the ingredients, directions of use, warning statements, expiration date, and other information carefully while evaluating a product.
A product label is the most important selling tool for a cosmetic product. However, it contains the most vital information about a product. A prospective buyer should carefully evaluate the product by reading and understanding its labeling information. How do you feel after reading through this brief discussion? Is your knowledge of Anatomy of a Label is clear? Would you read the product label differently when you evaluate your next product? Let us know! We hope that you found this blog post informative and useful. We encourage you to routinely visit our blog and share it with your family and friends.
Disclaimer-This website and any of its content, comment, writing, or authors/contributors/writers do not provide or suggest medical, legal, or professional advice, opinion, or service. The information shared on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The cosmetic world is an ever-expanding phenomenon. Millions of products are already in the market and thousands of new products are launched every year. Thousands of cosmetic companies market their products making various claims ranging from “effective” to “miracle cure”.
How closely you have ever examined or interpreted the cosmetic product contents you use? If you do, do you understand some or all of them?
For example, a product claims to be an “anti-oxidant” on its front label. Do you know which ingredient acts as an anti-oxidant? Is it Vitamin C or Butylatedhydroxy Anisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene? By the way, what is Butylatedhydroxy Anisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene? Are you going to put that product on your face?
Even if you are well aware and scrutinize everything you buy, this blog post will serve as your fundamental guide to understand common cosmetic substances, their common names, and how they are listed on the product. Happy reading!
What is what?
Active and inactive ingredients
Where to look for product ingredients?
Fragrance/Perfume- what to watch for?
What are common cosmetic terms
Other ingredients- what are they?
Common name and INCI naming
What is what?
Our recent blog post- Terminology: the art of Cosmetic Science discusses commonly available cosmetic products and their simplified explanation. Read the entire post here.
Looking past the charming label- Cosmetic product contents
Cosmetic products have their main product label, also called “principal display” and secondary labels such as the label in the back and on the top of the product container.
The principal display or the front label is what the customers see first. This label also happens to be the most important marketing tool for the product. It typically has a company name, logo, product name, weight or size, and other attributes.
But, the most important information is on the label stuck on the back or under the container. This is where the contents of the product are listed! Let us concentrate on the back panel for a minute.
How to read cosmetic product content label?
A product’s content label includes ingredients or the contents of the product by their INCI names. Some products may include both INCI names and common names. Common names are names by which the content is well known.
One example would be water. “water” is a common name for “aqua”, an INCI name! Another example would be Vitamin E (common name) and Tocopherol (INCI name).
Wait a minute! What is an INCI name? By the way, what is INCI?
Thank you for asking. You are paying attention!
INCI stands for the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. Read more about INCI here. Basically, this is a system designed to identify various cosmetic ingredients by their scientific names. To date, there are over 17,000 names on INCI-registered ingredients!
The importance of common and INCI names and why does it matter?
The complexity of INCI names may turn you off from looking at the back panel for a minute. We suggest you re-visit and make another effort to carefully read through the content panel.
What if you are allergic to sunflower oil (common name) and the product content listed Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil (INCI name)? It is your responsibility to read through the product information and understand it before buying and using a product!
Active and inactive ingredients
A common method of listing ingredients on the product label is their descending order of amount or concentration. For example, if a lotion is made with 70%water, 20%oil, and 10%glycerin, then water will be the first content listed on the label.
Several products such as sunscreen require particular mention of “active ingredient” on the back label. An active ingredient is supposed to perform a particular function for a particular condition.
An example would be an over the counter cream for acne with benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is considered an “active ingredient” because it is supposed to work against acne.
Some manufacturers list active ingredients separately and other (inactive) ingredients alphabetically, instead of their order of concentration. This way, it becomes difficult to estimate the amount of a particular ingredient in a product.
Fragrance/Perfume- what to watch for?
A fragrance is added for attraction purposes. Manufacturers are not required to disclose actual fragrance on their labels. Most products have a very small amount of fragrance compared to other ingredients.
However, fragrances can be natural or synthetic. Many products are available as “unscented”. A common belief is that such products do not contain any fragrance or perfume in it and are safe for use in people with allergies to fragrance. But, these products often contain a small amount of fragrance (a.k.a. masking fragrance) to hide the unpleasant smell of other ingredients. Be sure to read the ingredients and perform a patch test before using such products. Some products may have aromatic ingredients and therefore impart natural fragrance.
Other ingredients- what are they?
Some ingredients that are used in a very small amount or they are present due to the unrefined nature of the base ingredient. These may be combined as other ingredients on a label. The trivial amount of presence reduces the risk of allergy but people with allergies should carefully evaluate such labels to avoid issues.
How do you feel after reading through this brief discussion? Will you change the way you evaluate cosmetic products? Let us know! We hope that you found this blog post informative and useful. We encourage you to routinely visit our blog and share it with your family and friends.
Disclaimer– This website and any of its content, comment, writing, or authors/contributors/writers do not provide or suggest medical, legal, or professional advice, opinion, or service. The information shared on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The cosmetics and beauty industry has turned into a complex and expanding science. Cosmetic science, just like any other science, is riddled with intricate terminology. Cosmetics manufacturers regularly use scientific words on product packaging for marketing purposes. By doing so, they attempt to be different or better, or newer than others. This process appears essential in surviving an industry that grows by 5% each year!
Have you looked past that shiny label of that stunning bottle claiming to solve all of your skin issues?
Well, this blog post will cover basic terminology used to identify types of cosmetic products. This is not a certification course but it will help you better understand the next time you evaluate a cosmetic product. Happy reading!
What is what?
Scientific jargon. Simplified.
Let’s assume you are looking for a product to help with dry skin. Your favorite store has a plethora of cosmetic products. Many of them claim to give you fascinating results in as little as two weeks. One company claims its product has Coenzyme Q10 for faster repair. Some even tout “potent anti-aging” properties!
But wait, the label on a bottle says it is a body lotion while the other says it is a serum. What is the difference between a lotion and a serum? What is a lotion? How serum and gel are different? Why should I use hair oil?
We did discuss some basics on skin and cleansing in our previous posts- see here and here. Let’s dive into further detail!
Scientific jargon. Simplified.
Thin consistency. Water and oil. Water-soluble.
Thick consistency. Oil and water. Water-soluble.
Very thick. Oil-based. Also called an ointment.
Semi-solid to liquid. Made with wax or oil.
Thin liquid. It contains various nutrients.
Thick liquid. It helps the oil penetrate deeper into the skin.
Shea or Cocoa butter mixed with oils.
Sustained hydration after cleansing with a thick paste.
Salt crystals used for skin exfoliation.
Sugar, salt, and others to remove the oldest dead skin layer.
Viscous liquid. Used to cleanse scalp hair.
Viscous liquid used for moisturizing & detangling hair.
Salt of fatty acid (such as olive oil) used for cleansing.
Thin liquid soap for skin cleansing.
Slightly thicker than shower gel. Similar purpose.
Dry substance that effervesces when wet.
A skin scrub made of microparticles for smooth exfoliation.
Create mist of a product for skin hydration between skin cleansing.
Mostly petroleum jelly for excessively dry skin.
Very thick. Oil-based. Also called a balm.
Cleans and removes dead skin cells, oil, debris.
Fine powdery substance of various colors to cover blemishes.
A mixture of natural fatty acids and alcohol. Used as thickener and lubricant in cosmetics.
Skin soaking to allow moisture absorption.
Natural oil preparation used for nourishing the scalp and hair roots.
Did we miss any names? Feel free to let us know and we will happily update the post!
Are you still with me? Let us explore each of the above substances in further detail!
A lotion is a thin preparation with liquid-like consistency. Combining oil into the water makes a lotion. An emulsifier helps combine oil and water. Other substances may be added to the mixture such as other oils, fragrances, medications, etc. An example here.
A cream is a semi-solid preparation made by combining oil into the water. Thicker consistency compared to lotion is achieved by reducing the amount of water in the formula. A cream primarily creates a physical barrier for the outermost layer of the skin while retaining moisture and delivering nutrients or medications. An example here.
A balm or an ointment is a thick semi-solid substance primarily used for rubbing purposes. It may contain substances that promote soothing, pain relief, or healing. A lip balm is a common example.
Gloss is a thin, clear substance used to give luster or add subtle color to a specific area of the body. A lip-gloss is commonly used to enhance the appearance and shine of the lips. Similarly, hair gloss is used to improve the shine and vibrancy of the hair.
Skin serum is a substance applied to the skin after cleansing but before moisturizing. Skin serum contains nutrients (vitamins, herbs) in high concentrations that directly act on the skin. Applying the serum soon after skin cleansing allows these nutrients to be absorbed effectively. An example here.
A gel is a thin substance containing skin-friendly substances, nutrients, or oils. A gel contains astringent that allows shrinkage or constriction of body tissue. It binds quickly to the skin tissue and allows deeper penetration of the oils. A gel is also used as a deep moisturizer. An example here.
Butter (Body butter).
Body butter has thick, buttery consistency. Typically, body butter contains Shea butter or Cocoa butter mixed with various vegetable-based oils. Body butter acts as a deep moisturizer, primarily for excessively dry areas such as knuckles, elbows, and knees.
A mask is a thick paste or a patch applied directly to the skin. There are various types of masks by the purpose they serve. Deep cleansing masks are used for cleaning the skin pores. Honey, mud, clay, oil, cucumber, and others are commonly used masks. However, limited data show that masks are not more effective than a standard lotion.
Salt (Cosmetic salt).
Natural salt crystals exfoliate (remove) the outermost dead layer of the skin. Mineral salt has Calcium and Magnesium that help skin retain moisture. However, excessive use or harsh rubbing of salt can cause damage to younger skin cells and weaken the bond between skin cells.
Skin Scrub/Body scrub.
A skin scrub is a preparation that acts as an exfoliant. These are commonly made of mineral salt, sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, sugar, walnut shell, and other such ingredients. A combination of oil, herbs, and the essential oil is added to provide slight lubricating as well as aromatic effect to the body scrub. Couple examples with fruit extract, root, and herbs.
The shampoo is a viscous liquid to light pasty material. It is used for cleaning hair. The major content of shampoo is a surfactant that creates foam. The foam allows coverage of long hair with a small volume of product. Gentle rubbing of shampoo onto the scalp cleanses the scalp skin and increases blood circulation by massaging effect. Several shampoo preparations incorporate ceramides and herbs. Ceramides are natural lipid components of the hair and help keep hair strong. Herbs such as Shikakai, Brahmi help in healthy hair growth. Preparation such as this combines ceramides, herbs, and pro-vitamin B5 to achieve excellent cleansing, moisturizing, detangling, and hair strengthening activity.
Conditioner (Hair conditioner).
Hair wash often results in dry, tangled hair. A hair conditioner contains special moisturizers that keep hair soft, smooth, and detangled. Conditioner helps hair cuticle retain its moisture and softness and reduce friction between hair strands. A natural conditioner uses naturally occurring oils and conditioning substances to provide long-lasting luster, shine, and vigor. Routine application of hair conditioner allows smooth brushing and reduces hair loss. Some hair conditioners such as this one are pH balanced for use with color-treated hair.
Hair oil typically contains coconut, almond, or argan oil along with other ingredients such as nutrients and herbs. The hair oil is applied directly to the scalp and light massage is applied. It is left overnight as gel and washed with shampoo with the next shower and followed by a conditioner. Routine use of good quality hair oil, shampoo, and conditioner is beneficial for a healthy scalp, hair roots, and hair fiber. Direct delivery of nutrients to the hair root can be beneficial for hair growth. Hair oil application may help with dandruff and itchy scalp.
Soap is a cleansing agent in solid or liquid form. Soap is derived from a fatty acid from vegetable oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, and palm oil. Soap, by definition, is alkaline (pH above 7, typically 9 to 11). Soap acts as an emulsifier and allows oils to be bound with soap molecules and be carried away with water. Along with this, dirt and other debris can be washed away.
The shower gel is a liquid form of soap, mixed with other ingredients such as a surfactant, essential oils, fragrances, and glycerin. It allows moisturizing along with cleansing of the skin. A typical shower gel is of thin consistency. High-quality shower gels are made with organic olive fruit oil and essential oils. An example here.
A body wash refers to a shower gel with a thicker consistency. It may contain extra moisturizers such as Shea butter, or Coconut oil. Some commercial body washes may contain petroleum products to help with excessive dryness.
A bath bomb is a mixture of dry substances that effervesce when in contact with water. The purpose of a bath bomb is to add softeners, moisturizers, fragrances, and other substances to bathwater in a tub. The addition of essential oils can have an aromatic and soothing effect on the bathing process. The bath bombs come in a variety of colors and shapes for visually pleasing.
A form of exfoliation, skin polish is a process where nutrients are delivered to the skin while removing dead skin cells by exfoliation. It is believed to be gentler than body scrub and also known as microdermabrasion. Beauty spa and aesthetic centers often use skin polishing to treat skin pigmentation and stretch marks. This process is followed by the application of skin serum or deep moisturizer with nutrients to nourish young, emerging skin cells.
A thin liquid is sprayed on to the skin in the form of mist. An atomizer is used to create a mist. Fine mist often contains various moisturizers, nutrients, vitamins, and herbs for a soothing and nourishing effect. A skin spray is commonly used as a skin moisturizer in between the application of lotion or cream. Excessive use of skin mist can dry your skin by pulling water from the outermost skin cells.
Jelly commonly refers to petroleum jelly, commonly known as Vaseline. It is a mixture of mineral oils and waxes in a semi-solid form. Petroleum jelly, as the name suggests, is a by-product of fossil fuel produced by Oil rigs. It is known for its healing properties and is vastly used as an ointment.
See the section on “Balm” above.
Cleanser (skin cleanser).
Skin cleansers are products used to remove dead skin cells, oils, debris, dirt, makeup, sunscreen, and other external deposits from the skin. Commercial preparations contain surfactants to add mild foaming action to improve the cleansing experience. Foaming action also helps remove deeper debris and lifting dirt mixed with oils. High-quality cleansers such as this combine skin protective oils, and moisturizers along with colloidal substance to calm irritated skin.
Powder (cosmetic powder/skin powder).
Skin powder is a fine powdery substance applied to the skin to cover up blemishes, irregularity, or to control skin luminance (shine). Skin powders are commonly made of talc, a mineral made from silicone, magnesium, and oxygen. Skin powders can be translucent and provide a soft visual feel with its beautiful texture. Some powders can have oil-controlling properties to reduce shine from excessively oily skin.
Wax is a naturally occurring substance that is a mixture of fatty acids, alcohols, and esters. They remain solid at room temperature. Cosmetic preparations use waxes for thickening a product, adding waterproofing ability (such as in sunscreen), increase the SPF factor of sunscreen, and resist washing effect of a product. Certain waxes are combined with an emulsifier such as Cetearyl alcohol to be used to combine oil and water in a cosmetic preparation.
Skin soak refers to submerging the skin into lukewarm water. This process, typically performed for 10 to 15 minutes, allows the skin to absorb moisture. A skin soak is followed by the application of a serum or moisturizer with nutrients. In contrast to taking a bath or shower, skin soaking does not include rubbing action and therefore results in reduced loss of friendly oils from the skin. The addition of essential oils induces aromatherapy effect.
In summary, the cosmetic world has ever-expanding terminology and dizzying array of scientific vocabulary. Basic understanding of commonly used cosmetic formulations and its intended effect will help you effectively evaluate a cosmetic product.
What do you think? How do you evaluate a cosmetic product? What criteria do you look for in a product? We hope that you found this blog post informative and useful. We encourage you to routinely visit our blog and share it with your family and friends.
Disclaimer- This website and any of its content, comment, writing, or authors/contributors/writers do not provide or suggest medical, legal, or professional advice, opinion, or service. The information shared on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
What do you think? Leave a comment.
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