How to Read Beauty & Skin Care Product Labels Like An Expert

Have you ever read the back of your beauty or skincare bottles and wondered what the label even means? We’ve all been there, and it’s frustrating when you don’t know what you are putting on your skin!

Well don’t worry, below is everything you need to know about how to read beauty and skincare product labels like an expert, so let’s dive in…

What to expect

First things first, what should be on your labels? Like many other products they have to have all the ingredients, and directions, to make sure that they are used correctly.

Here’s what to expect when it comes to reading your label:

  • Brand name
  • Product name
  • Product type
  • Net contents (weight and volume of product)
  • Directions of use
  • Storage info (how to correctly store your product)
  • Ingredients
  • Contact details of the manufacturers who made the product

These don’t have to be in any sort of specific order on the product packaging but they should all be on there somewhere.


The thing that is probably the most confusing about beauty and skincare labels is the list of ingredients!

All those technical names don’t make for light reading, and can make you feel like you’re putting harsh chemicals on your skin! But don’t worry, a lot of the ingredients we see in skincare we know by more simple names:

Caprylic Glycerides = Coconut fatty acids

Manufacturers are required by the government to use the ingredients’ scientific names on the bottle.

If you’re truly worried about what’s in your skincare then you can always look up certain ingredients and find out their ‘simple’ name counterparts to put your mind at rest.

What to avoid

However, there are some ingredients that you might want to steer clear of:

  • Parabens – these are artificial preservatives that can be very harmful to the skin including allergic reactions.
  • Sulfates – these are detergents that can build up on your skin and can be harmful by causing reactions such as acne to irritation.
  • Fragrances – this ‘trade secret’ is that manufacturers don’t have to list all of the ingredients that make up a ‘fragrance’ and so can put any other harmful ingredients within your beauty product.


Another thing that can get confusing about reading your skincare labels is the symbols. It’s difficult knowing what means what so below are just a few that you’ll have seen and what they mean:


PAO stands for the period after opening and is the small jar symbol on your label, normally depicted with an ‘open lid’ with a number next to the letter ‘M’.

This little number stands for the number of months your product is good for once you have opened it.

It’s always good to keep checking the quality of your product every time you use it, especially when it’s coming up to its end date, as other elements such as intense heat or cold could affect the quality of the product as well.

(It’s also good to check the expiration date of your product as well. This is usually stamped either on the bottom or around the neck of the product.)


Another symbol to look out for, which has become more popular in recent years, is the recycled symbol. Look for the image of three arrows chasing each other in a triangle shape and you’ll know that your product is suitable for recycling!


Here’s one that you might not know! A lot of products nowadays are (thankfully!) cruelty-free. But how do you know which are and which aren’t? All you have to do is look for the symbol of a rabbit on your product label.

Final thoughts

If you want to find out more about your beauty and skincare labels and what you should be looking for when it comes to adequate skincare for your complexion, then you should talk to a dermatologist or find skincare professionals such as Swann Beauty.

These professionals will be able to give you effective advice on what you should be using for your skin type and help you achieve the results you’re looking for when it comes to healthier and happier skin.