How to look up skin care ingredients to see if they are good or not

How do you know what skin care ingredients are good, what are bad, and which are simply okay?

Two great resources

There are my two favorite websites for looking up ingredients.

The first, Paula’s Choice, has an ingredient dictionary that lists many skin care ingredients. If you’re doing any drugstore shopping, be sure to bookmark this site and take your phone with you. You can find the rating (the majority of our ModVellum Clinical line ingredients that are listed are “BEST” ingredients; some are too cutting edge to have made it into her site yet) and some details about the ingredient’s uses, potential sources, etc.

Skin Deep is part of the Environmental Working Group’s efforts to help consumers learn about the risks they take with ingredients. (Cheap cosmetics and skin care lotions and potions can be loaded with bad-for-you ingredients.)

ModVellum Clinical and Hale&Hush, our professional skin care lines, have both committed to a long “no-no” list. No SLS, no talc, no parabens, no fillers, no artificial dyes or fragrances, no animal cruelty… it’s a LONG list. You be be certain that what you purchase at Mad Science Massage & Spa in Sarasota is going to have effective ingredients that are also safe.

Things to consider

Marketers are tricky. Is that drug store find with the latest miracle ingredient a treasure?

Just because a product is advertised to “contain” an ingredient:

  • it doesn’t necessarily tell you what strength that ingredient is (if that’s a factor)
  • it doesn’t necessarily tell you the source of that ingredient
  • it doesn’t necessarily tell you what type or part of the ingredient is used (plant-based ingredients may come from extracts, oils, stems, leaves, fruit, etc.)
  • it doesn’t necessarily tell you if the ingredient is chirally correct
  • it doesn’t tell you how much of the advertised ingredient is in the product
  • it doesn’t tell you the molecular size of the ingredient
  • it may not be the right fit for your skin type or condition, even if it does have advertised ingredient

Just like with vitamins, (some forms of calcium are more bio-available and usable than others,) skin care ingredients can come in different forms. Lactic acid in one product may not be the same as lactic acid in another.

Also, some products are just plain hype. Gold facials, while fun, don’t usually contain gold that is molecularly small enough to do more than just sit on the skin. And if it was, you may be looking at some heavy metal poisoning. The body isn’t meant to have a lot of most metals. Hyaluronic acid is AMAZING when it can get into the skin; otherwise it’s just going to be an okay moisturizer.

You get what you pay for…. maybe

There are many examples of products that are being sold for HUGE amounts of money to people who have no scientific literacy or skepticism. Gem-infused skin care that’s a hard and aggressive sell at some malls, for example. (Sidenote: no one will push you to buy with us. If you aren’t sure, that’s okay. We also have try-it sizes, and when you bring back your empty container to purchase the full size we apply the try-it price to the full-size. Very little risk.)

There are also companies that buy in bulk from overseas and do huge mark ups on technology; again these tend to prey on mall goers and at flea markets. Some professional units could be purchased cheaper, with training, and a warranty! (The theme of this; do your research and never buy a device on the spot. Go “use the restroom” and google at the VERY least.)

With those few scammy exceptions, you’ll find that higher end skin care lines:

  • have less fillers (ours have none) than drugstore and cheaper products
  • contain more effective ingredients
  • contain synergistic ingredients (several that work together to do the same thing, thus enhancing the overall effect)
  • professional lines, like ours, have “technician strength” home care treatments
  • have more vegan, vegetarian, and cruelty-free options
  • are created in an FDA-compliant laboratory
  • are more concentrated and last longer

Ready to look at our lines?

Look through our skin care blog pages and you’ll see we have listed our products, their featured and full list of ingredients, and have written pages specifically outlining what they are, where they’re from, and why they’re in the lines. You can also attend a “try it” event at our office, schedule a consultation with our esthetician, or go ahead and book a facial online or by calling 941-676-3433.


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