When chatting with people about what to look for in skincare products normally their eyes very quickly glaze over with overwhelm. The question “how on earth am I going to remember all this!?” is the only thing they can think of.

It’s a great question because who can remember all 947 ingredients to avoid, especially when they have names like diethanolamine? So to save you needing a chemistry degree just to go shopping here are 8 common-sense questions you can ask yourself to easily find the gems from the rocks.

8 essential questions to ask before buying any beauty product:

1. Is the secret ingredient just to suck me in?

Nature and science can achieve great things but the race to discover the latest secret ingredient is out of control. Apple stem cells, snake venom and snail slime are a few of my favourites. If you run apple stem cells through your B.S. detector you should question how they do they survive in a jar of cream? (they can’t.)

2. Is the aroma intoxicating?

That lovely aroma of a tropical frangipani probably isn’t real frangipani. It is rather 400 unknown and possibly toxic ingredients. Due to a loop hole companies do not need to disclose what their fragrance or parfum is made up of. This makes them more mysterious than Clark Kent. Fragrance is the first ingredient to blame if you react to a product. Essential oils are a much better alternative. But you need to be mindful of them as well because they are powerful and can cause skin irritations.

3. How is it packaged?

Without getting into the glass vs plastic debate, you should look for packaging that blocks or protects the products from sunlight. Dark or amber is better than frosted or clear. Airless is a great way to reduce preservatives in a product but the cost can be too high for smaller manufacturers. Extravagant packaging doesn’t mean it’s a better product. Sometimes products are put in boxes just so they can attract a higher price.

4. How is it preserved?

Preservatives are a hot topic – especially since parabens (and their possible health concerns) have been getting plenty of attention. But parabens are still widely used because they are cheap and effective at preventing bacteria growth. All preservatives have pros and cons.

On the flip side preservative-free does not mean it is safe. Unpreserved water-based cosmetics can be more dangerous than preserved ones because bacteria and fungus can cause major health problems.

If you want natural, look on the label for rosemary extract, citric acid, grapeseed extract, natural vitamin e or hops extract. Or stick with pure oils (e.g. virgin coconut oil) that usually don’t need preservatives to their natural stability.

5. Is their ‘Natural’ claim just a marketing ploy?

You only need one ingredient that is natural to call the product natural. To see if your product is the real deal or just a product of sneaky marketing you should read the label. If you see things like dimethicone, EDTA, DEA, paraben, mineral oil, or PEG then ‘natural’ is just a gimmick.

Look for the words certified organic or the ACO stamp. Don’t rely 100% on the ACO stamp however because smaller/boutique brands may still use certified organic ingredients but haven’t had their products certified due to the high costs. Again read the label – the ingredients list will tell you how much is certified organic.

6. Is it Australian made?

There is no need to buy the latest and greatest from Switzerland. We are home to some of the most amazing ingredients in the world. They definitely hold their own against Japanese seaweed and French melons. The manufacturing standards in Australia ensure that products are of high quality. Australian natural and organic beauty products are world class.

7. Do they test on animals?

A brand will state and display very clearly that they do not test on animals if the subject is close to their heart. Be suspicious if they do not mention anything. Animals Australia has a list of companies that do test on animals (http://www.animalsaustralia.org/features/animal-testing-list.php) and some may surprise you e.g Dove and Aveeno.

8. What if I don’t like it?

Is the product backed up with a guarantee so you are not out of pocket if it doesn’t work for you? You know the ones – they stare at you every time you open the bathroom cabinet.

If the product has a guarantee then you know that the manufacturers have faith in their product but also understand that there is no one perfect product for everyone. It shouldn’t cost you your hard earned dough if the product doesn’t live up to its promises.

We hope this has given you some food for thought! Do you have anything to add?

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  • So many chemicals in products, not sure how they get through to be allowed to be made into skin creams.


  • Having it made in Australia is a big plus for me!


  • This was a really good read. I will keep this in mind next time I shop.


  • also see what the ingredients are. my friend uses this certain very expensive face product and i looked at the ingredients and it contains urea! which is urine! i don’t know who’s or what type of urine though lol. needless to say she threw it out as i was laughing my head off lol. go natural ladies but not THAT natural


  • I would never of thought of asking. Now reading this im thinking maybe I should ask questiins before I buy my make up


  • Wow! Only one natural ingredient needed to earn the right to label a product natural. What a rip off!


  • I am guilty of getting sucked in with new products


  • Wow! thanks for.the info. very useful.xo


  • Great information. Thanks for sharing.


  • Will go through the products I have at home and see how they answer these questions!


  • Great information, thanks for sharing


  • great tips, thanks will have to ask these before I restock anything


  • some food for thought, I have never thought of these questions before


  • Thanks for this, very good list to follow!


  • Aussiemum – would love to know the products :)


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