Skincare products often come with vague, confusing labels. Why is a “hypoallergenic” product safer for skin? What’s the difference between “natural” and “organic”? Are these terms pure marketing or are they actual standards that can help you decide if a product is better for your skin?
This means a skincare product claims to cause less allergic reactions. However, these claims aren’t tested by an independent board. It’s up to the company to do its due diligence by selecting ingredients or conducting clinical trials.
It’s also impossible for any product to be completely allergy-proof because of the nature of allergies themselves. People’s skin are different: what is safe for one person may cause reactions in another. Your skin may also change as you grow older.
In the end, you have to conduct your own personal “clinical trials” to find out what is safe for you. Don’t change your whole regimen in one go – introduce products one at a time so you can immediately see if it causes a reaction. If you have sensitive skin, avoid ingredients that are known irritants (LINK TO ARTICLE ON SENSITIVE SKIN).
Natural / Organic
A natural or organic product contains ingredients that have come from nature as opposed to being completely synthesized in a lab.
These products have become very popular in recent years. Skincare research has found many powerful botanical extracts and oils that can fight acne, ageing and irritation. Some people also have a personal preference for natural products. (Note that this is a preference – natural or organic products aren’t necessarily “better” or “gentler” than those that are made in the laboratory. It just describes the source of the ingredient.)
There are some organizations that will give a “Certified Natural / Organic” seal, but they have different criteria. Some products will receive this seal even if they use some synthetic ingredients. It is still important for consumers to read the label and research on the brand philosophy.
A comedo (plural: comedones) is a mild form of acne that is caused by a clogged pore. Pores can get clogged by dead skin cells and excess sebum. Whiteheads are comedones that form under the skin surface. Blackheads are comedones exposed to air, and turn black because of oxidation.
the comedo is closed at the skin’s surface, it’s called a whitehead. When it’s open at the skin’s surface, and you can see the plugged follicle darkened by melanin buildup, it’s called a blackhead
Non-comedogenic products claim to have a lower risk for clogging pores. They don’t contain oils and may help break down excess oils on your skin. However, they may not necessarily treat existing comedones. You will still need other products to help clear out pores and exfoliate.
Go beyond the marketing labels
This article shows that labels like Natural, Organic and Hypoallergenic are not automatic guarantees that a product is “better” or “safer” for your skin. Instead of relying on those terms, research on the brand (what is its mission and skincare philosophy?), read the list of ingredients, and pay attention to your skin’s reactions. If you are informed, you don’t need a marketing label to tell you what’s good for you. You’re empowered to make that decision for yourself.
Mei Hui is the Managing Director and Pharmacist of The Skin Pharmacy. She is not a natural writer (please excuse the spelling and grammatical errors!) but she is very passionate about The Skin Pharmacy, anything related to health and wellness and life, in general. These articles are her own views which may not always be shared by others. Please feel free to comment below the articles if you wish. Happy reading!