By Ilana Weiner
Here’s a pic of a label from my favorite sunblock, Blue Lizard.
The resolution’s not that great, but trust me, the first ingredient is water. The other thing I want to point out is the active ingredients at the top.
The best definition that I found on active ingredients is: “Components of a chemical product which (irrespective of their relative quantity) help directly in achieving its performance objectives.”*
In plain English, active ingredients give a product the ability to do what it says it’s going to do. So when you are looking at skin care products, pay close attention to the active ingredients. This is especially important in sunblocks, where they list whether the active ingredients are physical (e.g. titanium dioxide) or chemical. If you have problem skin, like acne, or sensitive skin, these active ingredients are where you are going to get the most bang for your buck. But don’t always assume that the higher the active ingredients the better the product. I learned that lesson from 10% Benzoyl Peroxide which is too harsh for my skin. Look for the active ingredients and do your own testing to determine what is the right mix for your skin!
What if your product doesn’t have any active ingredients? It doesn’t mean that it’s not going to do anything for your hair or skin. But what it probably means is that if you looked at your favorite moisturizer, for example, found the ingredients at the top of the ingredients list and then looked for something similar, you’d probably get the same effect on your skin. This doesn’t take into account other factors, like smell or texture that you might like in particular about your favorite product. I’m just talking about boiling down products to the key element, ingredients. It’s a different way of looking at your products. For example, my moisturizers that I like are all pretty much water and glycerin. And my dry shampoos that I love so much? Butane and starch.
So what are your favorite active ingredients? What key ingredients do your favorite products have? It’s a fun exercise if you are like me and dream of being a beauty scientist!