When I first moved back to Denver from LaLa Land I was fortunate enough to score a pretty sweet gig. I spent 3 years working for a cosmetic company as their International Makeup Artist and Educator, Brand Manager and Product Developer. I am so grateful for that experience as I learned a ridiculous amount of stuff (stuff is a technical term right?!?).
One of the most important things I learned came from the clients, and users of the product. Very few women out there knew how to really look at and understand the outer box that holds the goods. Becoming educated about what you put on the largest organ of your body is SO DARN IMPORTANT! While this is not a post dedicated to ingredients (that will come, not to worry), it is a post about knowing what should be listed.
Let's look at the ingredient deck first. Per FDA compliance every company has to list its main ingredients on the box. They are not required to list them on the physical product component (bottle, compact, tube, etc.) unless there are active ingredients that are considered a drug (SPF is a great example). They are also required to list their "May Contains (+/-)." What does the "May Contain (+/-)" mean? That is where the colorants are listed. These are always less than 1%. What does that mean to you? It's good to know what those terms mean so you can be sure the product you purchase practices full transparency. Before the May Contain (+/-) section.
The main ingredients are listed by the highest percentage to lowest. For example, if you are looking at the ingredients of a pressed powder, the first ingredient listed is the bulk of the product. The second thing that needs to be listed on the box is the drug facts. If you are buying a sunscreen, the active ingredient(s) needs to be listed with its percentage accompanied by the traditional drug panel that you see on all products that have a drug claim. The Net Weight also needs to be listed. This is often seen in ounces, grams, milliliters, or units. They also need to list the name of the product and its intentions. For example, that pressed powder needs to list quick directions or intentions blurb. They will read roughly as follows: "Apply all over face using a Powder Brush."
The most important part other than the ingredients is the PAO symbol. PAO stands for Period After Opening. Many women hang on to product for dear life for WAY TOO long! There is normally a jar symbol otherwise known as the "tuna can" with a number and the letter M next to it. This symbol (usually on the back of the box) is always overlooked. This means that upon opening the purchased product (taking it out of the box and opening the component to expose the product to oxygen... and your pretty face), you have 12 months before you should toss the product and replace it. The length of time depends on the product. Water-based products like foundations and skincare have a 6-12 month life after opening. SPF products are almost always 6M. Powders can have an after open life spanning from 1 to 2 years. Please Please PLEASE toss products once they are old. You don't drink old milk from the fridge, you know it's old because it smells funky... the same goes for makeup and skincare! I always write on the back label of my product the date opened just so I know when I need to start keeping an eye on it. Using old product is just wrong. I had a client who kept adding water to her 1-year-old mascara... I almost died when I thought of all the germs and creatures growing on her lashes!
The point of this long-winded post is simple. Educate yourself about the products you use every day. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will dive into ingredient break downs!