5 Simple Tips to Help You Decipher Your Skincare Ingredients Label

As a generation of “skintellectuals”, we know our hyaluronic acids from our niacinamides. But ask most of us skincare know-it-alls exactly what our ingredients labels actually mean and we might fall at the first hurdle. Here, Vogue enlists the help of biochemist and cosmetic scientist Nausheen Qureshi to offer you a foolproof guide.

Where is the ingredient label? 

The ingredients or International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI) list can’t always be found on the product itself. Sometimes it is hidden beneath peel-back stickers and often it can be found on the outer boxing the product came in.

What order do ingredients come in?

Under regulation, all ingredients are listed in descending order, from the most concentrated, until you get to those at percentages below one per cent. At that point, they can be listed in whatever order the skincare brand wants,” says Qureshi. It is tricky for consumers not only to know the strength of each ingredient, but also to know where the one per cent mark lies.

How to understand ingredient names

The substances within the formula are listed by their chemical or biological names. “For example, a rose’s biological name is Rosa damascena, but there are other types of rose, such as the root or leaf, that are defined by different nomenclature,” says Qureshi. The INCI list highlights which part is used. While it can be tough to know exactly what each ingredient is, a quick Google or peruse on the EU’s CosIng database should reveal all.

Common ingredients to know

While formulas and their ingredients vary, there are a few familiar words to acquaint yourself with. Expect to see “aqua” or water as one of the first ingredients on many INCI lists, as well as glycols, which are good “solubilising ingredients that a lot of people are scared of because they sound like harsh chemicals,” says Qureshi. Don’t jump to conclusions when seeing confusing chemical names, as many of these ingredients are kind to skin, include crucial preservatives – which maintain the stability of the formula – and help other ingredients dissolve into the solution for a more effective product.

Learning the symbols

One of the most important symbols on the label is the period after opening (or PAO), a logo of a half-open tub containing a number followed by an M; for example, 24M means 24 months. “It’s an indication of how long you can expect the formula to last after opening it,” says Qureshi. “But don’t forget it could be shorter than that, depending on how long it was on the shelf (where the formula can still degrade) in the first place.” Other symbols include the Cosmos, which means the product has been certified to be genuinely organic or natural, and the recycling symbol, which shows it’s suitable for the recycling bin.

VOGUE

Skin Icing Is The Latest Skincare Secret That Promises The Ultimate Glow

Skin icing – or facial cryotherapy – is one of the latest skincare trends flooding Instagram Reels and TikTok – and for good reason. Quite apart from the mesmerizing effect of watching celebrities and facialists massage ice globes onto their faces, the action of skin icing tightens and contracts the skin, leaving it sculpted and plump with an outdoorsy glow. A case in point is Irina Shayk, whose morning skincare routine comprises an ice tool by Nicole Caroline to wake up her face: “Trust me, it works!” she says in the IGTV for British Vogue.

The idea of applying ice or using a cryotherapy tool in a professional facial treatment isn’t new but the recent innovation of ice-based tools has meant it’s now easier than ever to give yourself an at-home skin icing treatment, without the unglamorous and frankly annoying downsides of melting ice cubes dripping on to your clothes. Whether you want to de-puff skin or get the blood circulating for a post-walk-in-the-cold glow, skin icing is your ticket to see results. Throw in the immediate lifting effect and the added benefit of lymphatic drainage and it becomes an even more exciting prospect. 

Watch any YouTube tutorial and you’ll see before and after shots of icing: skin is glowing, pores are a thing of the past and, most noticeably, the face is lifted. Facialist Teresa Tarmey has been using cryotherapy in her treatments for years because the “ice-lift effect instantly and dramatically lifts saggy and puffy skin, rejuvenating a dull complexion and sculpting the face.” Indeed, icing was proving so popular in her salon that Tarmey created her own cryo-ball so that her clients could continue the treatment at home. “I first intended for it to be used before big events or to save stressed or problematic skin, but it’s so effective, many people use it every morning to de-puff and de-stress skin. The results are seriously impactful,” she says.

The promise of an immediate glow, tightened pores and de-puffing on your skin is reason enough to start skin icing but if you don’t fancy using simple ice cubes, make space in your freezer for one of these cryo tools.

Teresa Tarmey Cryo-Ball

This surgical-grade steel ball contains fluids that stay freezing cold while you roll the ball over the architecture of the face, along the jawline, up the cheekbones and across the forehead for a lifting effect.

Fraîcheur Ice Globes

Satisfyingly chic, freeze these spherical ice globes overnight and use them to give morning skin a massage. From enhancing circulation to taking down redness and puffiness, consider it a worthy AM skin ritual.

Georgia Louise Cryo-Facial Freeze Tools

In lieu of facialist Georgia Louise’s own hands and high-tech in-clinic procedure, look no further than her Cryo Freeze Tools. Louise recommends first rolling from the inner areas of the face, outwards; then, covering the eyes with the tools for 10 seconds to de-puff. 

001 Skincare Cryopress

Counting the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Gigi Hadid as fans, this little tool maintains a temperature of between -8 and -25 degrees Celsius to get the job done – and efficiently. The brand also claim it helps more sensitive skins, like those that suffer with eczema and psoriasis, too. 

Foreo UFO 2

This nifty little tool has a number of settings, from LED light to heat therapy and, of course, a cryo function which helps to shrink pores, reduce puffiness and take down inflammation. It’s not the coldest, at five degrees Celsius, but it does the job well. 

Anne Semonin Express Radiance Ice Cubes

Specifically designed for the eye area, these skincare-infused ice cubes can fit in even the tiniest of freezers and make brightening tired eyes a total breeze.

VOGUE

This Hydrating and Correcting Eye Cream Makes Fine Lines “Disappear” After a Month

If you’ve been on the hunt for an eye cream that actually works, it’s been waiting for you, over on Amazon. Packed with a potent lineup of anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid, collagen, and caffeine, Hada Labo Tokyo’s Age Correcting Eye Cream simply delivers. The corrective eye cream provides moisture, reduces fine lines, smooths dark circles, and lifts the entire eyelid area. And according to Amazon shoppers, it “does what it claims.”

Even though the hydrating eye cream makes bold claims, its formula backs up promises and gives visible results. The cream features collagen, which is notorious for rejuvenating damaged skin cells that contribute to the appearance of signs of aging. So how exactly does collagen make eyes look more youthful? Dr. Marisa Garschick, board-certified dermatologist, previously told InStyle, “Collagen serves as a structural protein in the dermis of the skin, and helps to provide structural support, keeping the skin firm and tight.” It also boosts the production of elastin, which keeps the skin plump and lifted.

Shop now: $20 (Originally $22); amazon.com

The collagen-infused eye cream also works with hyaluronic acid and caffeine to hydrate and reduce puffiness. Known for holding 1,000 times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid keeps moisture locked into the skin. Thanks to a filler effect, it also helps the skin look plump, dark circles brighter, and lines less prominent.

The caffeine is just another added bonus of the cream. Not only does it give an energy boost to the skin, ​​but when it’s topically applied, it can temporarily reduce puffiness under eyes.

Fans of the eye cream call it “an excellent anti-aging” product that is “great for sensitive skin.” Overall, shoppers agree that it’s a needed addition to your skincare routine. Another reviewer explained, “I have used so many non-mainstream product lines. Most, of course, are quite costly. And I must say, this is the best. I am shocked at how well it performs, considering the price point.

Another fan of the corrective eye cream called it a “holy grail product,” and added, “It did wonders for my dark circles, fine lines, and discoloration. I even think it works a little bit to lift the upper eyelids. Can’t praise this eye cream enough.

A final shopper confirmed that it took just one month for the anti-aging eye cream to help make both the fine lines around their eyes and the circles under their eyes “disappear.” Want to see the same results in a month? Head to Amazon now and snag the age correcting eye cream while it’s on sale for $20.

INSTYLE

This Retinol Replacement Serum “Drastically Reduces” Fine Lines, According to Reviewers

“It’s a yes from me. I hated using retinol, but knew its benefits,” wrote one person of Tula’s serum. “This product eliminated the terrible burning and redness I would get from actual retinol, [and] my skin looks tighter and more even. I just bought my second bottle.” Repeat buyers abound in the comments, where reviewers say that the formula smoothed out “horrible wrinkles” around their eyes and “made a world of difference” for silky smooth, younger-looking skin. 

Shop now: $68, tula.com

Per Tula, the serum has a laundry list of things going for it. There’s bakuchiol, the much-discussed retinol alternative that softens lines and hyperpigmentation without putting your skin through the ringer; probiotic extracts and prebiotics to firm skin and amp up its natural barrier; squalane to condition; and alfalfa extract to scavenge free radicals and reduce cell-damaging oxidative stress. Beta-carotene bundles in more antioxidants, vitamin E, and jojoba oil to add ample moisture, and gluconolactone and lactic acid gently exfoliate.  

Whether they found their way to it while pregnant or on the hunt for an anti-ager fit for sensitive, dry, and irritation-prone skin, customers say they’re impressed with the brightening, firming effects they see in around two weeks. But things really start to look different in a little over a month: “Makes my skin feel so hydrated, and the appearance of fine lines is drastically reduced,” wrote a shopper of their thoughts at the six-week benchmark.  

Your mileage may vary, though. In just a week’s time, one person says they were deeply pleased with the effects. “No irritation, and it does seem to be working on my fine lines around my eyes and the larger lines on my forehead.” As a last 80-year-old shopper wrote, it’s even succeeded at making their “aging skin” soft again, and dark circles less outstanding. “This product feels amazing, and I think it’s making the wrinkles less prominent. Just had a great dermatology check up, so I must be doing something right.” 

Intrigued? Want to exclaim “Mamma Mia!” at your face, but in a good way? Try the serum for $68.

INSTYLE

Glossier’s Launched Their First Retinol Product

In the beauty world, not being able to withstand a retinol product is an Achilles heel. Touted as one of the strongest and most effective products to treat fine lines, uneven texture, discolouration, and even acne, retinol is basically the Holy Grail. It also happens to be the only ingredient the skin either absolutely can not stand, or it loves it. About an hour after putting on a retinol–even the gentlest ones on the market–some people’s skin begins to peel, develop bumps all over the face, and it’s a general mess. BUT…

“This texture is so smooth and hydrating, which is always a good sign, since retinol products are notoriously drying. After layering it with a moisturizer, I went to bed and prayed I woke up to a decent face. To my immense surprise, my skin felt silky smooth, I wasn’t having a bad reaction at all, and I even felt confident to try it again, two nights later.” – ELLE Beauty Editor

This product is a blend of retinol with fatty acids derived from sunflower seeds–which makes it less irritating–along with line-reducing stevia extract and hydrating mongo grass root extract.

Shop on their website

ELLE

5 Skincare Swaps to Make for Fall

As the days get shorter and the temperatures creep lower, your skin needs warm and cozy layers, too. Come fall, products with gentle, hydrating formulas help prevent dryness caused by both indoor and outdoor air.

“As we head into fall, temperatures get lower and humidity decreases. There can also be brisk winds and dry heat from heaters — and all of these factors can contribute to drying out our skin,” says Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “In low humidity environments, we lose more moisture from our skin into the air.”

The shift in seasons can also exacerbate inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema, that are associated with dehydration in the skin. “You can begin to counteract these changes by taking some initial easy steps such as turning down the water temperature to lukewarm when bathing, using a more emollient soap, and switching to a heavier moisturizer,” adds Dr. Carlos Charles, board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of 4.5.6 Skin.

Ahead, the two dermatologists help us breakdown what skincare products to use in your fall skincare routine to help prevent and repair dryness, along with what to shelve until next summer.

Add: Creamy Cleanser — Drop: Gel or Foam Cleanser

Look for a creamy cleanser that will support and cushion skin as fall weather settles in. “A creamy cleanser that supports the skin barrier while it cleanses may be helpful as the weather gets drier,” says Dr. King. “Avoid harsh detergents that strip natural oils from the skin.”

Dr. Charles adds that gel and foam formulas may fall into the drying category. “Gel and foam-based cleansers that are meant to decrease oil production and increase cell turnover may become overly drying and strip away much of the essential and innate protection of the skin as we move into the fall months,” he says.

While Dr. King is a fan of Dove’s Beauty Bar, a drugstore staple, CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser is another affordable option for anyone who prefers a liquid face wash.

Add: Hyaluronic Acid Serum — Drop: Chemical Exfoliant Serums

For an extra layer of moisture, Dr. Charles recommends incorporating a hyaluronic acid serum into your routine. “When evaluating serums for the fall, thicker hyaluronic acid-based serum can help lock in moisture as opposed to the lighter water-based serums that you may use in the summer,” he says.

But depending on your skin type or concerns, you may still want to use a serum with chemical exfoliants or anti-aging benefits. “Proper formulations and usage of ingredients like hydroxy acids and retinols can still be helpful, depending on your skin,” says Dr. King. “So this means that depending on your skin type, it may be best for you to decrease exfoliation in colder weather — frequency and strength. And look for exfoliators that support the skin barrier while they exfoliate.”

Given that retinol is considered the gold standard of skincare ingredients, because it can treat a number of common issues like fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne, and uneven texture, you might want to use it year-round. Dr. Dennis Gross’ Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Acid Texture Renewal Serum has supporting ingredients that help prevent irritation and dehydration.

Add: Rich Moisturizer — Drop: Lotion

“Moisturizers should always include a combination of humectants, emollients, and occlusives, but heavy occlusives may feel like too much when the weather is hot and humid,” Dr. King explains. “Lower humidity may make heavier occlusives more important to lock in moisture.”

Dr. Charles seconds this. “Cream-based moisturizers are heavier and therefore are more effective in sealing moisture content to the skin. A lotion is lighter with more water content and less oil, whereas creams have more oil content and less water which is ideal for the dry season.” He recommends the Day Hack Matte Moisturizer from 4.5.6. Skin.

Add: Moisturizing Mask — Drop: Clay Mask

While clay masks can be effective at drawing the extra gunk out of your pores, they can also leave skin feeling dry and tight. That’s why if you’re looking to indulge in a face mask during the fall, Dr. King recommends reaching for a hydrating formula.

Topicals’ Like Butter mask is designed to soothe and minimize irritation, while strengthening the skin barrier.

Add: Hydrating Toner — Drop: Exfoliating and Alcohol-Based Toners

If you’re a fan of toners, you guessed it: ditch ones with harsh exfoliants and alcohol during the fall. “Toners are always optional, but if you want to use one, you may want to switch to a more hydrating and soothing formula that is alcohol free,” says Dr. King.

Renée Rouleau’s Moisture Infusion Toner is powered by a blend of lipids, naicinamide, and stabilized vitamin C to deeply hydrate and brighten skin for a dewier finish.

INSTYLE

The New Glow Recipe Guava Serum Is Packed With Brightening Ingredients That Target Dark Spots and Dullness

Sure, it may be pumpkin spice season to some, but others are still trying to cling to the last bit of summer. And the new Glow Recipe serum delivers that sunny, tropical goodness plus brightening and hydrating benefits to help bring your summer shine into fall and beyond.

The brand’s latest fruity offering, the Guava Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum, aims to lighten dark spots and dullness with a combination of antioxidants and tranexamic acid, a relatively new ingredient in over-the-counter products. But the guava serum doesn’t just contain one form of vitamin C (a notoriously unstable ingredient), it has five, including both water- and oil-soluble formulas. While vitamin C is a go-to ingredient for brightening skin, different forms work best for different types of skin and some are easier to keep stabilized than others, so this product is covering all its bases here. 

Glow Recipe paired all that vitamin C (including some derived from guava-seed oil and guava-fruit extract) with antioxidants vitamin E and ferulic acid. That’s an all-star combination of ingredients often seen in much pricier products. Glow Recipe’s previous vitamin C serum, the Pineapple-C Bright Serum, contains exfoliating ingredients as well as the star antioxidant. In turn, the guava serum doubles down on gentle brightening ingredients. 

The serum also contains 1.1% tranexamic acid, which has been studied extensively over the past several years in oral formulations in the treatment of hyperpigmentation, including melasma. There’s generally more evidence showing that tranexamic acid can help reduce melasma when taken orally than when used topically. But a growing body of evidence suggests that topical formulations could have some benefits too. With the addition of glycerin and hyaluronic acid, the formula will also help keep skin feeling hydrated and plump.

Glow Recipe’s new guava serum, with a light gel texture and bright pink color, absorbs into the skin easily. As of today, it’s available on the brand’s site and at Sephora

SELF ARTICLE

Gemma Chan’s Beauty Routine Costs $998 — but a $19 Serum Makes All the Difference

Gemma Chan definitely knows how to make an impression. Her turn in 2018’s Crazy Rich Asians was unforgettable, and we’re waiting with baited breath for Don’t Worry Darling to land next year (Chan, Florence Pugh, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine star). In the meantime, Chan is working on a podcast about Asian American civil rights, and using her position as a L’Oréal Paris spokeswoman to promote self-care’s role in building confidence and asserting equality. To that end, the actress and activist recently revealed her full beauty routine — and the intel is juicy. 

In a video for Vogue released earlier this month, Chan walked viewers through exactly what she relies on to maintain her glowing skin. As expected for any celebrity, she invests in some pricey finds like Augustinus Bader’s The Rich Cream, celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech’s Facial Massager, and Foreo skincare tools. Yet alongside those triple-dollar-sign buys — The Rich Cream fittingly goes for $265 a bottle — are two hard-working products in the under-$20 range. 

The first? L’Oréal’s Revitalift Derm Intensives Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, an all-important base layer. Hyaluronic acid is in tons of products these days because, as researchers say, it has a “unique capacity” for retaining hydration — it can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, which keeps that dew-making moisture on your skin. With that power, it’s no wonder Chan says the serum “works really well” to wake her face up on tired mornings after late nights, or that the serum’s garnered over 18,000 five-star Amazon ratings.  

Buy It! L’Oréal Revitalift Derm Intensives Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, $18.92 (Orig. $23.99); amazon.com

“I’ve been breaking out so badly from constantly having to wear a mask,” writes one 30-year-old with skin they describe as extremely sensitive and dry. “I added this serum to my skin care routine, and I got instant results overnight. My face is so dewy and moisturized, I’m literally glowing for the first time in years.” Others write that it instantly fills in deep wrinkles, and more still say that after trying “everything on the market,” the Revitalift serum gave them silky, glowing skin. 

That efficiency is rivaled by the next steal in Chan’s routine. “My secret weapon is a caffeine eye cream,” she explains. “[I] just very, very gently dot under my eyes. Hopefully [it] encourages a bit of drainage of the puffiness,” Chan says of The Inkey List’s $9.99 Caffeine Eye Cream. Reviewers say it does the trick: They credit the formula with taking puffiness down quickly and keeping it down all day, on top of brightening under-eyes and dark spots. 

Buy It! The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream, $9.99; sephora.com

“​​Holy crap, it really does reduce puffiness,” writes a shopper of the impact. “I’ve been using this product consistently (AM and PM) for just over a week, and I already notice such a difference. I don’t look like a zombie anymore.” Others say the cream’s moisture lasts all day, even for dry eyes — and at $10, it bests even more expensive products. Shop it at Sephora, and keep scrolling to see the rest of Chan’s routine for blockbuster-ready skin and makeup. 

PEOPLE ARTICLE

5 Reasons Jojoba Oil Is The Hydrator Your Skin Needs

When it comes to skincare, there always seems to be a hot new ingredient of the moment. Does anyone remember salmon milt? The latest It ingredient? Humble jojoba oil, harvested from the seeds of a North American bush, is a multi-purpose has withstood the trends and test of time. Rose Ingleton, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, frequently recommends jojoba oil to her patients. (The Jamaican-born derm also has her own skincare line, which is spiked with superfruits from her native home). Here are the five reasons she loves it so much:

It’s just like human sebum (and that’s a good thing). 

It may be weird to think that the oil made by pressing jojoba plant seeds is so close to those produced by the human body, but nature is wild! “This means it can actually absorb into the skin rather than sitting on top of it like most oils,” Ingleton says.

Sensitive skin will love it. 

“If your skin is particularly sensitive and irritated by active ingredients, pure jojoba oil is a good option for moisturizing your skin,” she adds. Anybody who suffers from eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, or just plain old finicky skin can benefit from slathering their face and body with the golden oil.

You can truly use it all over. 

Hair, cuticles, even to soothe chapped lips—jojoba can be an all-body experience. Ingleton’s tip for maximum hydration and absorption? “As with any oil, applying it to slightly damp skin and hair is always going to work best.”

No clogged pores, here!

Jojoba oil’s bio-similarity to human sebum means that it’s non-comedogenic. “Acne-prone skin types may also see a benefit because it has some anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties,” Ingleton adds. (Hint: coconut oil is comedogenic, so jojoba oil is better if you’re looking for an oil-based makeup remover.) 

It plays nice with harsher ingredients. 

Retinol? Don’t be scared of it you’re using jojoba oil in your routine. “Because jojoba oil helps with dryness and irritation, it’s a great match for pairing with prescription topicals or with retinol serums,” Ingleton says. She suggests using Retxurizing Retinol Booster Serum from her own line (which has been designated as Clean at Sephora).

ELLE article

This Hyaluronic Acid-Infused Serum “Revived the Plumpness” of Shoppers’ Skin

If you struggle with dehydrated skin and fine lines and wrinkles, you’ve probably tested serums that promise to solve those skin concerns — and you’ve probably struggled with them, too, if they didn’t contain superstar ingredients that treat signs of aging, like hyaluronic acid. Luckily, Amazon shoppers have pinpointed a powerful formula you can add to cart right now. 

Over 6,100 of them would likely recommend the La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum, if the number of five-star reviews says anything. It’s crafted with pure hyaluronic acid, which deeply hydrates the skin by holding in moisture and helps it to look plumper. “Hyaluronic acid is widely used in skincare as a humectant, [a substance that helps the skin hold onto water] and can often be found as the key ingredient in serums, oral supplements, dermal fillers, and eye drops,” Dr. Lian Mack previously told InStyle

La Roche-Posay’s formula blends it with vitamin B5, which moisturizes and helps to reduce acne inflammation. According to the brand, the dermatologist-tested serum is suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin. 

Shop now: $30, amazon.com

The hyaluronic acid serum has a rich texture that doesn’t feel greasy or weigh down the skin — instead, according to shoppers, it’s light and refreshing, absorbing instantly. You can expect immediate plumpness after use and an overall reduction in fine lines over time, says La Roche-Posay.

Reviewers on Amazon are practically drinking it up. “This serum actually worked beautifully. And I am seventy!” one wrote. “What I like best are the results. About two months in, I looked in the mirror one morning and noticed my little eye wrinkles were just plain gone… I use it generously at bedtime, and in the morning, always over clean skin. I don’t notice any scent at all. It literally glides on like silk. Afterward, It feels a little sticky at first, but that dissipates. I’m so pleasantly surprised by the obvious results. It really did exactly what it claimed it would! My complexion looks tighter, very moisturized, soft, and smooth.”

Another shopper added, “I have a small amount of rosacea on my cheeks that comes out in the winter and if I use certain face products. I did research on switching my skincare routine and, honestly, have fallen in love with this stuff. It’s gentle, and my skin has been looking better and better. A small amount does go a long way, but I for sure will be buying again.”

And they confirm that the results the brand promises really come through. One shopper wrote, “it revived the plumpness of my skin and smoothed fine lines. Just love the La Roche-Posay line of products because it is ideal for sensitive skin! Just recently started using this product and immediately saw great results in a few weeks.”

Even if you think you’ve tried it all before, try La Roche-Posay’s hyaluronic acid serum on Amazon for only $30 and watch your fine lines and wrinkles disappear.

INSTYLE article