Rant of the Day: Cosmetics Ingredient Analysis


Disclaimer: this is not a relaxing read.

I know this is going to divide people, opinion-wise, but why on earth would people judge skin care products almost solely based on results from cosmetics ingredient analysis? Running ingredient lists through online cosmetics ingredient analyser for comedogenic/irritants is like judgement day — any products with ingredients scoring high for comedogenicity and irritancy are condemned. It makes absolutely no sense to me at all!

The comedogenicity and irritancy test was done decades ago by mixing each ingredient with propylene glycol at a 9 to 1 dilution, and applying 1ml of it on albino rabbit ears five days per week for two weeks. When used as part of many ingredients in a product on your skin, results are not necessarily going to the same. Never mind that we’re not albino rabbits — what about the propylene glycol used for dilution that is known to be a common rosacea trigger? Fatty acids and Red 36 are also retested using different solvents (specifically acetone and sunflower oil), and the results greatly differ for each solvent used — even on albino rabbit. Many important factors go unaccounted for in popular analysis tool and lists!

Now, if you’re going to judge a product based on its results on the comedogenicity and irritancy test, shouldn’t you at least make sure the ingredient list is, in fact, correct? I’m well aware that some companies do not list full ingredients of their products online (and if they do, they may not be in a language you understand). It annoys me to no end when I see products’ ingredients being dissected and analysed (often a key component in reviews on popular blogs) based on the results from a cosmetics ingredient analysis tool online, when the ingredient lists posted are grossly incorrect and with no source cited. Perhaps a figment of their imagination or they copy/paste them from somewhere, who knows? Surely not the readers, anyway! What happened to journalistic integrity?

I can understand that these cosmetics ingredient analysis and lists are helpful as a rough guide for those with acne or persistent irritation, and are at lost with where to begin. But to take them as verbatim? No. The overall formulation matters more than how comedogenic or irritating certain ingredients are graded. Many people also experienced problems with “safe” ingredients but didn’t with ones considered to be high-risk. Relying on these cosmetics ingredient analysis, at best greatly limits your options, and at worst gives you a false sense of security.

I’m all for taking a closer at products’ ingredients but the only way to know what’s clogging or irritating you is through trial and error. Learn about ingredients and avoid your triggers. There are no shortcuts.

(The picture is a stray domestic rabbit that lives under the shrubs near my home.)


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