Alive Body: How To Read Your Skincare Ingredients Label
With the addition of Al.ive Body to Sonei Home, I wanted to give you the tools to make your own educated decisions on some of the beauty products you may purchase in the future, including the incredible Al.ive Body range. With a cosmetics background, I have gained good knowledge on ingredients, how to read ingredient lists, and how to decipher popular jargon used by marketing companies.
As you may know, I try to stick to a rigid checklist regarding brands meeting sustainability practices for our environment and for the people working for them, and the Al.ive Body brand was no different. I can say, they blew me away.
I loved their omission of a lot of the nasties we see in skin care and cosmetics these days, which I will touch on later. They are an Australian brand, and their packaging is completely in line with Sonei Home’s environmental and ethical trade models.
Let’s dive into ingredient lists. Want to know simply if the product you’re looking at buying is good for you or should it be left on the shelf? Read on:
- The smaller, the better. That leaves less room for all those ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- You want all the active and key ingredients in the middle or towards the top of the list.
- The higher the ingredient on the list, the more of it there is.
- Key ingredients such as natural fragrances and nourishing ingredients should make up the bulk of the ingredients.
- If there is added fragrance in the product you want it somewhere towards the middle or the end, so you know what you’re smelling is more of a combination of the key ingredients natural scents and the added fragrance, rather than the added fragrance alone.
Let’s break down one of the Al.ive Body DUO’s ingredients lists. The Kaffir Lime and Green Tea Body Wash..
See that the 1st ingredient is water. This is sensational.
- Sodium laurylglucosides hydroxypropylsulfonate: This is a cleansing agent, very gentle and based on renewable resources of corn and coconut. Great to know that the cleansing ingredient is high up in the list, so you know it will wash the dirt off your body really well.
- Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine: The foam booster. Don’t you think a wash or shampoo is working better when you lather up and it becomes foamy. That’s what this ingredient does.
- Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate: Another cleansing agent derived from coconuts. A safe and mild alternative to sulfates.
- Phenoxyethanol – a preservative to help other ingredients in the product that might otherwise deteriorate or spoil, continue their efficacy.
- Fragrance: Great to see the added fragrance towards the middle of the ingredients list rather than the top, alongside the key ingredients.
Notice the Kaffir Lime, Green Tea, Finger Lime and Lime Oil make up almost half of the ingredients list? This is great to see. Sometimes brands use lovely fragrance names and they will be in such minute quantities and they rely solely on added fragrance, which you don’t want.
Now, let’s breakdown the ‘NO’ list and see if it’s marketing spin, or if it’s for the good of the product.
- NO Palm Oil: This was a MUST for any skin care or makeup product I was going to stock at Sonei Home. The devastation the Palm Oil industry has on habitats and the environment cannot be described simply with words and imagery is so saddening. The WWF has suggested that approximately 300 football fields of forest are cleared every hour to keep up with palm oil plantations. That equates to around more than 2 million hectares a year.
- Let me just say, Palm Oil is not needed and there are plenty of sustainable alternatives, and I praise Al.ive Body for appreciating this. Be sure to do research on any brands or products that stipulate they use Sustainable Palm Oil. This simply means that the Palm Oil is farmed from ‘regulated’ forests. However, the governing body that provides certification for businesses that meet requirements of producing sustainable palm oil has been questioned for it’s effectiveness in the past. For reasons such as; lack of timeliness in following up on complaints that ‘certified’ businesses may not be strictly following guidelines among others.
- No Mineral Oil: Mineral Oil is made from petroleum and could stop the skin from producing Vitamin B
- No Parabens: Parabens are a hotly contested subject. Some studies have suggested that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. However these studies come from animal testing, and the affects on humans have not been established. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for regulating therapeutic goods including prescription medicines, vaccines, sunscreens, vitamins and minerals, medical devices, blood and blood products (Australian Government, Department of Health, 2021) and they have not banned Parabens in Australia. The TGA has some of the strictest guidelines in the world for this industry. However, it is still great to see brands err on the side of caution and omit these, when alternatives are available.
- No SLS/SLES: These are harsh and irritating ingredients that are foaming agents. Again, unnecessary when there are safer and more gentle alternatives available.
- No Phthalates: Phthalates are preservatives which are used to lengthen the shelf life of cosmetics and skincare. But they have been used in plastic bottles, vinyl flooring and lubricating oils. They are known as endocrine inhibitors that interfere with the normal actions of our hormones. In light of these findings, the following Phthalates have been banned in cosmetic and skin care use: dibutylphthalate, diethylhexylphthalate, diisobutylphthalate and di(methyloxyhexyl)phthalate.
- No Cocomide DEA: A group 2B carcinogen possibly carcinogenic to humans.
- No Synthetic Dyes: Sometimes referred to as “coal tar dyes”, since they are manufactured from substances which until recently, were only obtained from coal tar (Science Direct, 2021).
- No PEGS or EDTA: EDTA is a stabiliser that stops ingredients from bonding to minerals that can be present in water. It also inhibits ingredients from changing texture, consistency and/or odour. The reason you don’t want this in your skincare or cosmetics is that in excess it can bind with Potassium and toxic metals found in the bloodstream leading it all to the kidneys. However, medical evidence is shaky and lacks solid proof. But, again, great to err on the side of caution.
- No Animal Testing: Be sure to be wary of businesses who claim to not test on animals. First, look at where they sell their products around the world. And then look at their promise of no animal testing. They may have some fantastically worded jargon along the lines of “…we do not test on animals, unless required by law”. This means to sell in certain countries, their products may be tested on animals, perhaps not be the company itself, but by the government. So, if you see that wording, know that somewhere, somehow, that product is being tested on animals.
So to takeaway from what you’ve read, I hope you feel confident in knowing the Al.ive Body brand is a beautiful one. It cares for what goes on to your skin, it’s educated on the cosmetics and skin care industry, cares for our environment, and shows all of this can be created in Australia.
I hope you can take what you have learnt here and apply it to your other cosmetics and skin care. The ingredients list size also works for food. The more organic the food, the smaller the list will be and you will be able to pronounce and understand most of the words on the list. Whatever is at the start of the list, is the most abundant ingredient.
Of course, I am no medical expert, however as a consumer with an immediate interest on the subject, I’ve done the scanning and research for you. But always, be a critical thinker, investigate on your own and make up your own mind. This can be a great starting point for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. I’m happy to do the research for you.
Happy safe and educated buying friends.
Some further reading for you, with links to some trusted sources.