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All the Lingo You Need to Know to Decode Your Beauty Label

As a consumer, you’re probably mystified by some of the contents of your beauty products. It can be challenging to get your head around all the jargon found on cosmetic labels, but still you’re just supposed to trust that it’s safe and only beneficial to your skin. To make things worse, some words can have hidden meanings, and certain ingredients can be more harmful than you think. Fortunately equipping yourself with the right knowledge can help you defend yourself from unhealthy ingredients. Here are the real meanings behind familiar phrase and buzzwords you see on labels.


Vegan beauty products are those that do not contain animal-derived ingredients of any kind. They are better for the environment and also less likely to trigger irritations and allergies. However, it’s important to note that just because a product is vegan doesn’t mean that it is cruelty-free.


This is a tricky term to understand. While a product may not have been tested on animals directly, there’s a chance that animals have been harmed at some point during the manufacturing and testing process. Cruelty-free products may still contain animal by-products, which differentiates them from vegan products. If you want a truly cruelty-free product, you must find one that is vegan and made by a 100% cruelty-free company that doesn’t sell in China, or have a parent company that does.

Dirty Dozen

These are the 12 toxic ingredients to avoid in skincare products.Æ mineral oil, parabens, PEG (polyethylene glycol), phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) & sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), siloxanes, propylene glycol (PG) & butylene glycol, aluminum, DMDM hydantoin & urea (imidazolidinyl), triclosan, DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine), and synthetic fragrances. Looking out for terms such as sulfate-free and paraben-free is also a good way to avoid these harmful ingredients, but that doesn’t mean the other 11 ingredients are not included. Read carefully!


If a product is considered non-toxic, then it is free of the dirty dozen and is made with only natural ingredients or safe synthetics.


A clean beauty product is one that is formulated with ethically-sourced, non-toxic ingredients. These must be sustainable and derived without causing any environmental damage. Clean products must be free of damaging ingredients, commonly referred to as the “dirty dozen.”


Becoming gluten-free is a lifestyle choice that many people are choosing to adopt. Buts there’s not enough evidence to back up the fact that there’s a need to avoid skincare or beauty products with gluten in them. Gluten applied topically cannot be absorbed through the skin since the protein molecules are large; however, those with an allergy to gluten might find some comfort knowing their skincare is gluten-free, too.

As you can see, just because a brand claims that it’s natural doesn’t make it non-toxic. Or just because a product is vegan doesn’t make it cruelty-free. Hopefully now we’ve armed you with the knowledge to pick out what’s safest for you to use in your daily beauty routine. Happy reading!

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