Read the Label: Understanding Skin Care Ingredients


Knowing what is in your skin care products and being able to understand the ingredients is essential. Armed with this information, it will help you to educate your clients as well as dispel common myths they might have.

Michael Pugliese, CEO of Circadia By Dr. Pugliese, and Rebecca Gadberry, senior instructor & program coordinator cosmetics sciences of UCLA Extension, educated attendees at Skin Inc.’s Face & Body Northern California spa expo and conference on popular ingredients and their sources, roles of ingredient families and how to read the ingredient label.

Why attendees were treated to a three-hour workshop with a demonstration of making products, here are four points you can use.

1. Biggest Myth in Cosmetics

“There is no such thing as a chemical-free cosmetic,” said Gadberry. “Everything in our world is made of chemicals.”

Gadberry explained that in cosmetics, chemicals are called ingredients and all cosmetic ingredients are chemicals. “Even water is a chemical,” she added.

“There is no such thing as a chemical-free cosmetic. Everything in our world is made of chemicals." --Rebecca Gadberry, senior instructor & program coordinator cosmetics sciences of UCLA Extension

If you believe a product is chemical-free, you won’t be understanding how chemicals should be created, processed and disposed of in ways that are safe for the environment. “There are even natural ingredients that are harmful,” said Pugliese.

2. Re-educating Clients

So, what do you do when a client comes to you with misinformation about an ingredient? Gadberry recommends using the Feel, Felt, Found method. For example: “I understand how you feel about sodium lauryl sulfate. I felt the same way until I went to this amazing seminar by industry experience. I found out…”

“Another method is the porcupine technique,” said Gadberry. “Instead of guessing why a client has an aversion to an ingredient, simply ask. You’ll be surprised what you might hear.”

3. Ingredients Are Like Sentences

Ingredients can be viewed in several ways, and their names can give you clues. “When you break the ingredient name into syllables, you can then identify the key ones to unlock the ingredient’s purpose,” said Pugliese.

For example, with cocoamphocarboxyglycinate, coco tells you it comes from a plant.

4. Build an Expectation

Part of a product working is setting up expectations that it will. “The way you think about a product has an effect,” Gadberry explained. Explain to your clients what they should see and expect as well the timeline they can expect results.

“You are the difference between clients purchasing a product from you or from the drug store,” she said.

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