Why can't the effectiveness of a cosmetic product be determined from the list of ingredients alone?


5/2/20222 min read

Did you know that the content of cosmetic product labels, ingredient lists, and all marketing claims depend on the transparency of the manufacturer? We have noticed that the majority of cosmetic manufacturers choose an "easier" path and manipulate information about the product by providing misleading information.

Raw materials for the production of cosmetic products have commercial names, under which the INCI name of the used raw material is hidden. This means that several different raw materials, each named by different commercial names, may have quite similar INCI names. This is where the interest begins. Firstly, it should be understood that often the raw material used for a cosmetic product is made up of several components - this can be an active ingredient (having a positive effect on the skin), a solvent (necessary to dissolve the active ingredient), and for example, a preservative (extends the shelf life of the raw material). Let's consider an example: cosmetic manufacturer Anthony reveals the percentage of the active ingredient (raw material component) in his cosmetic product, which is 5%, and manufacturer Peter claims to use raw material containing 10% of Vitamin C. First of all, Anthony and Peter may use different raw materials, which may differ in quality and composition (the concentration of Vitamin C in the raw material itself may differ). If Peter puts 10% of his raw material into a 30 mL cream bottle, the active component - Vitamin C - in this bottle will be only 3.3%. By claiming that he puts 10% of his raw material and indicating that it is the concentration of Vitamin C, Peter does not violate cosmetics regulations. However, the concentration of the active component is higher in Anthony's product. Therefore, Anthony, who produces a cosmetic product with a lower percentage of the substance than Peter's product, will be honest with his customers and offer a product with a higher concentration of the active component to the market!

We mentioned that both Anthony and Peter may use different raw materials, which may differ in quality and composition. Let's consider the issue of quality. Even if Peter and Anthony use raw materials with different commercial names but have the same INCI name, we cannot check the quality of these raw materials by looking at the INCI list of cosmetic product. Both raw materials may be extracted from different sources and using different purification (extraction) methods, and have different levels of activity (in other words, different effects on the skin). The raw material used by Peter may be much more active, obtained from renewable sources, etc., while Anthony's raw material may be synthesized in a laboratory, and have weaker or stronger effects on the skin. Both manufacturers' products may be supported by clinical studies, and the concentration and INCI are indicated on the label.