Understanding the Order of Skincare Ingredients

In the world of skincare, choosing the right products can be a complicated task with the wide range of products, ingredients, and marketing terms out there. The ingredient list on skincare products often resembles scientific jargon, leaving individuals confused about what they are actually applying to their skin. However, understanding the order of ingredients on skincare product labels is essential for making informed choices about your skincare routine.

In this article, we’ll decode the significance of the ingredient list and help you become a savvier skincare shopper.

The ingredient list serves as a roadmap. It tells you exactly what components are present in the product and in what quantities. Ingredients are listed in descending order of concentration, with the higher-concentration ingredients listed first.

Active ingredients: These are responsible for delivering the products’ promised benefits. Active ingredients are listed at the beginning of the ingredient list. Common active ingredients include retinol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and salicylic acid.

Emollients and Moisturizers: These ingredients help to keep the skin hydrated. These usually include common emollients such as jojoba oil, shea butter, and glycerin. They are usually listed after the active ingredients.

The following ingredients help to maintain the product’s texture and stability as well as preventing harmful bacteria and prolonging the shelf life of your products. These often include alcohol and parabens. These can sometimes be harmful or irritable for the skin and where to keep an eye out for ‘nasty ingredients’.

Fragrances are found at the end of the ingredient list. These can improve the scent of the product, however, fragrances shouldn’t be used for those with sensitive skin.



If a product is claiming to be based around a particular ingredient, however, this ingredient is far down the list, it may not be present in sufficient amounts to provide the desired results.

Beware of marketing tricks and ‘hero’ ingredients. Always check the ingredient list for yourself to check that those hero ingredients are indeed prominent.


The order of ingredients on skincare product labels is not just a random arrangement but a critical aspect of understanding what you’re putting on your skin. Armed with this knowledge, you can make more informed decisions about the products that align with your skincare goals and preferences. Remember everyone has unique skin, so one product won’t work for all. Always consider the order of ingredients as a valuable tool in your skincare journey,