Nydia Norville


Here's are some tips when reading labels. Ingredients are listed from the greatest amount to the least. For example, if you take a look at the label on the right, the first ingredient listed is witch hazel. This means that the largest portion of this product's formula is comprised of witch hazel. If you look at the bottom, soy lecithin is listed last. This means typically a small amount of this formulation is made up of soy lecithin. When reading labels of natural and organic personal care products, plant or soy based ingredients should be on the top of the list. If the first ingredient is a synthetic one, then you might want to put it down and search for something else. If water is the first ingredient, which it usually is, then you want to look at what ingredients directly follows. A general rule is that is should be soy or plant based.

Another great tip to know about reading labels is that manufacturers usually list two names for the same ingredient. Certain ingredients may be known as one name in one region or country and another somewhere else. Since the INCI name or Latin name is universal, it is used first and then the common or English name afterwards. For example, the INCI name for shea butter is butyrosperum parkii. This is done to prevent any confusion.

A great resource to use as a reference about ingredients used in the personal care industry is a book called "A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients" by Ruth Winters. In this reference guide, Winters covers what seems like every ingredient used in the personal care industry, what they are derived from and its uses and adverse effects. It's all listed alphabetically making it very user friend. In my local library it's considered a reference book so you can't take it out but it's also listed at a very inexpensive price on This book has been a mainstay on my bookshelf and I continue to use it as a reference guide often.





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