Your Guide to Decoding Beauty Product Labels

When looking at a cosmetic product, you may have noticed that the label and product information can sometimes be a bit confusing. These different terms can sometimes make us think one thing but really mean another. So, how can you keep them all straight? This helpful guide will dive into what these different labels mean to help you make an informed buying decision. 

natural beauty product label

#1 Natural

A natural label means that at least a few ingredients in the product are considered to be natural. However, not all ingredients have to be natural. 

Hypoallergenic beauty product label

#2 Hypoallergenic

Those with sensitive skin may want to consider hypoallergenic products, as these products are less likely to cause reactions. However, these products do not provide a guarantee that you won’t experience a reaction. 

Non-Comedogenic beauty product labels

#3 Non-Comedogenic

Products that are labeled as non-comedogenic means that the ingredients have been tested and proven to not clog up pores, which could help reduce your chances of experiencing a breakout. 

Natural Fragrances beauty product label

#4 Natural Fragrances

Products that contain natural fragrances means they have ingredients that are derived from natural and raw materials.

clean ingredients

#5 Clean

When a product is labeled as “clean” this means that it does not contain irritating ingredients, whether they are natural or synthetic. At, “clean” is defined as products that are mindfully created and produced without any proven or suspected toxic ingredients. Clean skincare products include ingredients ethically sourced and are made with the health of our bodies and the environment in mind.

Parfum beauty product labels

#6 Parfum 

Parfum is French for perfume and can also relate to fragrant ingredients present in a product. 

Fragrance-Free beauty product label

#7 Fragrance-Free

Products labeled as “fragrance-free” do not contain any fragrances or chemicals masking fragrances. 

Unscented beauty procut label

#8 Unscented

Even if a product is labeled as “unscented”, it could still contain fragrances. These products may contain certain chemicals that are designed to cover up fragrances, which makes them scent-free products. 

Phthalate-Free beauty product labels

#9 Phthalate-Free

Phthalates are harmful chemicals that can be found in certain cosmetic products. Those stating that they are phthalate-free means that the product does not contain these chemicals. 

Sulfate-Free beauty product labels

#10 Sulfate-Free

Sulfates are known to cause irritation to the skin, as well as the scalp, and are typically found in shampoos. Those stating that they are sulfate-free means that the product does not contain these types of chemicals. 

Paraben free beauty product labels

#11 Paraben-Free

Parabens are utilized to help preserve cosmetics. However, they are also linked to harmful effects. If a beauty product is labeled as “paraben-free”, then it does not contain any parabens. 

vegan beauty product label

#12 Vegan

To find a truly vegan product, look for a Vegan Awareness Foundation logo or a Vegan Action logo. Vegan products cannot contain any ingredients derived from animal products or by-products, as well as cannot be tested on animals. 

USDA beauty product label

#13 Certified Organic / USDA Organic

A truly organic product will need to have an organic stamp. Organic products can only utilize organic ingredients. 

ecocert beauty product label

#14 Ecocert

Ecocert leaves its stamp on products that have gone through a high-quality inspection to determine that the product is organic. 

cruelty free beauty product labels

#15 Cruelty-Free

If you are looking for a cruelty-free product, look for a Leaping Bunny logo or a certified cruelty-free logo. These products have gone through strict testing to ensure that the product has not been tested on animals. 

broad-sepctrum beauty product label

#16 Broad-Spectrum

This label indicates that this type of sunscreen will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. 

POA beauty product labels

#17 PAO

This symbol on your products is the period-after-opening symbol that will tell you how long a product is viable after opening. 


Decoding the labels on your beauty products sounds like a challenge, but with this helpful guide, you’ll have it down in no-time. Knowing what these different terms and labels mean can help you better choose products for yourself and your needs. If you ever have questions about a particular ingredient it is always helpful to do a little research or consult with a medical professional before using it.

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