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Simply Put

How to Crack The Ingredient Label Code

Destiny Faithe

Ingredient label for popular shampoo.

Ingredient label for popular shampoo.

Whoa, what the heck is this stuff? It's pretty daunting and scary looking huh?

The first step towards choosing better products for yourself is to understand the products that you already use. Being able to decode the ingredient label on your favorite product is crucial to deciding whether the product stays or goes. What I love about Co-Pur is that I'm able to share education on ingredients as well as help women make better natural choices. We also make it really easy for you, all of our ingredients are incredibly straight forward and natural!

How do I read an ingredients label?

Similar to food, companies are required to list ingredients in their products on their label in a descending order of predominance. This means that the most prevalent ingredient is listed first, and the rest follow suit accordingly.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

  1. If an ingredient makes up less than 1% of the product it may be listed in any order after those that are greater than 1%.
  2. Color additives may be listed in any order after all the non-color ingredients.

One of the most important things to take note of when it comes to ingredient labels is the use of the term "fragrance". Fragrance can mean two different things. The term "fragrance" may be used in place of an ingredient or mixture of ingredients that mask an undesirable odor (but not add any noticeable scent) of a product. Fragrance can also be a combination of ingredients used to scent a product as this combination of ingredients may be deemed proprietary. I would highly recommend avoiding fragrance when possible, as "fragrance" can be made up of numerous ingredients that can be potentially harmful, and you won't even know what they are.

How do I know if an ingredient is safe?

Unfortunately, ingredient safety knowledge will require a bit of research on your part. Fortunately there are a few good resources out there that can help! I personally really like the EWG's Skin Deep database. All you have to do is type in an ingredient and the site will look it up for you. It will let you know what the ingredient is typically used for, as well as its overall safety concerns and finally give it a safety rating.

However, the process of looking up ingredient after ingredient can be extremely tedious and time consuming. My suggestion would be to learn what types of ingredients to really avoid rather than driving yourself mad with every single ingredient. Because lets face it, you probably use 10+ products a day, and each product could have 20+ ingredients in it. That's a lot of ingredients to consider!

Ingredients to avoid: BHA, Boric acid & Sodium borate, Coal tar hair dyes & other coal tar ingredients (including Aminophenol, Diaminobenzene, Phenylenediamine), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde releasers – Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea & Quaternium-15, Fragrance, Hydroquinone, Lead, Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone & benzisothiazolinone, Nanoparticles, Oxybenzone, Parabens (specifically Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl-, and Isobutyl- parabens), PEGs/Ceteareth/Polyethylene compounds, Petroleum distillates, Phthalates, Resorcinol, Toluene, Triclosan & Triclocarban, and Vitamin A compounds (retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinol)