Shop Smarter for Skin Care.

We are teaching you how to better understand your product label today

We are teaching you how to better understand your product label today

Keeping our skin in optimal condition requires a great at-home skin care routine. This doesn’t necessarily always mean having the most expensive or trendy products. What is necessary is an arsenal of products that have effective, non-damaging, concentrated ingredients. How exactly can you best find these products, you ask? You can always refer to your trusted esthetician with any product questions you have; but we wanted you to have some key knowledge that will help you make the very best choices when shopping for skin care.

image from  primal pit paste

image from primal pit paste

scrub me secret: some products use certain buzz words to advertise their products. you’ll see terms like “all natural” and “paraben free”; or adjectives like “skin firming” and “skin brightening” in large, bold letters on products. really these words are just there for marketing effect and don’t reflect how well the product actually works or how good it is for your skin.


Navigating the ingredients label:




scrub me secret: we want everyone to be reading the back of their packaging! any ingredients and adjectives listed on the front of the package or outside the ingredients label will not give you the full picture of your product. when purchasing skin care you should be checking out this info before making a decision.

Active ingredients in skin care-

You’ll see the active ingredient listed at the top of this acne product.

You’ll see the active ingredient listed at the top of this acne product.

In some skin care products you’ll see a section for ‘active ingredients’. These are the ingredients that are the effective component of the product or give you the result promised by the item. For example, the active ingredients listed on a bottle of mineral sunscreen would be zinc oxide or titanium dioxide; this is because there are the actual UV protecting ingredients. For acne products you’ll mainly see ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide listed as active ingredients. Companies choose to label their products in this way so you can easily see the purposeful ingredients without having to sift through a list. Some companies do not separate their ingredients labels like this and will just list everything in one paragraph. An important thing to remember is that just because an ingredient is listed as an active ingredient, it doesn’t mean that it’s the main thing in your skin care item. Usually active ingredients will have a percentage next to them that tells you how much is in your product. When shopping for skin care you’ll want to pay attention to the active ingredients because that will help tell you what the purpose of the product is. You’ll still want to read the full ingredients label of all the other items in the product to gauge if it’s good for your skin.

scrub me secret: when we are talking about active ingredients here we are talking about the ingredients that are put in the skin care item to deliver the results promised. this is not to be confused with ‘actives’ which is another skin care word that describes exfoliating enzymes and pore clearing acids like lactic and salicylic. we will go over actives in our next blog about exfoliation!

red flags.jpg

Red flags on your ingredients label-

It’s really important to take a peek at your product label, even if you don’t recognize each and every item on there. Here are some red flags that should tell you when to step away from that skin care item!

A super long list of ingredients:

This brings up areas of concern because the more ingredients that are in the product the more chance that there are items like emulsifiers, heavy preservatives, and other ingredients that aren’t really doing much for your skin’s health. A lot of ingredients are put in products to help the smell and texture of the skin care item. If the list is super long with a lot of items you aren’t recognizing then we suggest not purchasing that product.

The good ingredients are all the way at the bottom:

On the list of ingredients of your skin care products the ingredients are listed in order from what’s most abundant in the product to the least. This means whatever is at the top of the list is what your skin care item is mostly made of. If you view your product list and you see the effective, healthy, or purposeful ingredients listed towards the very bottom, then skip this product. You don’t want to see the effective stuff all squeezed in at the end of the list.

scrub me secret: it’s common for gel cleansers and non-oil based lotions to have water listed as the first ingredient. this isn’t a bad thing since water is needed to make a lot of these more liquid-based items. what we don’t want to see is water listed as the first ingredient of serums since these are more concentrated skin products.

Common skin irritating ingredients:

Benzyl alcohol: This is an ingredient that is added for fragrance masking properties and is also used as a preservative. It is known to cause atopic dermatitis or skin irritation.

Fragrance: These are man-made oils that mimic essential oils or other smells. These do not have properties to aid in skin health like essential oils, they are strictly for scent. fragrance oils themselves contain a long list of various skin irritating ingredients. we think it’s always best to avoid facial care with fragrance oils.

MIT (methylisothiazolinone): A commonly used, bacteria-killing preservative. It is a known skin irritant and can also be toxic to the body.

Propylparaben: A paraben used in face lotions, cleansers, and other self care items. This is known to be agitating to sensitive or sensitized skin.

irritated skin

scrub me secret: parabens are a group of man-made ingredients that are used in skin care as a preservative. there are a few different kinds of parabens and some are even used to preserve processed foods. parabens are deemed safe in small amounts by the FDA but have been known to cause skin and health issues.

Propylene Glycol: A common ingredient in skin care items and some food. This chemical is used to help water-based products retain some of their moisture and texture. In our skin care practice over the years we have found that this is a skin irritant for many.

Lanolin: This ingredient is a wax/oil found in a number of moisturizing and conditioning products. Since this product is derived from wool it is known to be a common skin irritant for some.

This is just a super small list of ingredients we see a lot in skin care products. Here is a great list that includes names of more parabens and other skin irritating ingredients. https://www.psico.com/sensitive-skin-care/chemical-irritants/

what we like to see on the product label-

easy to decode, simple ingredients!

easy to decode, simple ingredients!

A limited number of ingredients: We don’t necessarily want to give a specific maximum number of ingredients that is ideal for a skin care item. It is possible to pack a lot of really amazing ingredients into one product. Our rule of thumb is that if you start reading too many “red flag” ingredients in a row or a lot of items that you aren’t familiar with, then it’s probably not the best product for your skin. By the end of this blog you’ll be able to recognize more ingredients than you ever have before!

Easily recognizable items: We love it when we can look at a label and easily recognize the ingredients! This is mainly the case with plant-based and oil-based products as they don’t need as many preservatives or stabilizing ingredients.

scrub me secret: it’s definitely a bonus when products are certified organic! one thing we do have to look closely at is the little asterisk used to mark certified items. you’ll see it at the bottom of the label, “*certified organic.” this doesn’t mean that all the ingredients are certified organic, only the ones with the asterisk* next to them. sometimes it can be as little as just one certified organic item in your whole product.

Decoding your ingredients:

scrub me secret: ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and others will not show up as those specific names on your product ingredient label. there are different variations of these ingredients and they all have names. we made a list that can help you locate these ingredients on your label.

Vitamin C: L-ascorbic Acid (this is the most stable potent type of vitamin C), Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ascorbyl Glucosamine

Vitamin A: Retinol, Retinol Acetate, Retinoid, Retinol Palmitate, Retinaldehyde

Vitamin E: Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Glucoside, Tocopheryl Succinate

Enzymes: Bromelain, Papain, Malic Acid

AHAs: Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Mandelic Acid

BHAs: Salicylic Acid, Sodium Salicylate, Willow Extract

We challenge everyone to take a look at your skin care lineup at home and take a peek at the ingredients label. Are your products helping to improve your skin? Or are they stifling your glow? So many times we see clients with skin texture issues, irritations, or breakouts that they cannot figure out. A lot of times the root cause goes back to ingredients in home-care products. All our scrub me™ items are made with plant-based effective ingredients and truly nothing else. While it would be amazing for all of you to use strictly scrub me™ products, but we know that's not totally realistic. There is so much skin care out there and new products coming out everyday. Some of it is really great…and others items not so much. We want to give you the tools to be a smart skin care shopper!

do you have any other skin care questions or product questions? we will answer anything for you! ask us in the comments on this blog or anonymously on our contact page.