Tips on How to Read Ingredient Labels


Most active ingredients are listed near the beginning of the list and ingredients listed near the end of the list are typically comprised of less than 1% of the total.

Sometimes, a product label can be intimidating, with more than 20 ingredients listed. The key is to focus on the first five to six. Ingredients are listed in order of how much is included in that particular bottle, going from highest to lowest. So if the first ingredient is “water,” you automatically know the product is majority water since it’s listed first.


Learn the Ingredient’s Job

All ingredients have a particular job when it comes to how they perform on your hair.  Some moisturize, while others handle the task of providing protein or shine to our stands. Note the ingredients most associated with each hair goal.

Oftentimes products love to boast of its ingredients on the front of the packaging to get your attention, and of course they are ingredients that many of us hone in on. But some ingredients like sea kelp, and rich minerals will even stir our curiosity. The bottom line is to make you think you need that product because of its ingredients, but if you turn the bottle around and the boasted ingredient is not within the first five to six ingredients then there is a high "possibility" that there is not enough in there to make a difference or a benefit to your locks. That is a general and not "absolute" application to hair care products. As the Beauty Brains explains:

"Now, before you start an 'Occupy Cosmetics' movement to complain about the 1%, let me point out that this doesn’t mean that none of the ingredients below the 1% line matter. For example, pigments are used at very low levels yet they are critically important to color cosmetics. And preservatives are only used at a few tenths of percent, yet I wouldn’t want to buy a product without them! There are many exceptions to this 'First Five' rule."

According the The Natural Haven, with shampoos and conditioners (including leave-ins) water generally takes up 50%- 80% of the total weight of the product. This is why you hear that water is the best moisturizer. Water does hydrate our hair and skin. It takes up the most weight in your shampoos and conditioners, but after that the next four or five ingredients matter the most or are responsible for the main purposeful properties of the product. 

Beauty Brains says that the four or five ingredients following the first ingredient in shampoos are the cleansers and for conditioners they are the softeners and moisturizers. That magic ingredient that made you pick up that bottle in the first place needs to be in the top of the list, so if it’s not then you may want to think twice about it. 

Now you know why we discuss the first five to six ingredients and how important they are to read instead of wholeheartedly trusting the marketing claims on the packaging. The power of the product is on the back and your power as a consumer is in your ability to decipher what is best for your hair’s wants and needs.

Don't blindly trust marketing claims... the first five to six tells you much of what you need to know.

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