Ingredient lists displayed on retail products abide by the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI), which is an internationally-recognized system of identifying all ingredients in a product. Ingredients in concentration of 1 percent or higher are listed in descending order, followed by ingredients in concentration of less than 1 percent in any order. However, when it comes to judging the the effectiveness of a product, there are more factors than just percentage to consider.


Numerous uninformed opinions on product ingredients can be found on the internet. This article will address four of them.


“Only the first five ingredients matter.”


The first few ingredients listed on a product label are typically solvents and emulsifiers that add texture to the product, with some active ingredients following.


Ingredient suppliers recommend percentage ranges for actives to use in formulations. Brands focusing on results are likely to formulate at the high end of the range, whereas brands competing on price may use percentages below the recommended range as a marketing claim. This being said, effectiveness per percentage used depends on the ingredients. While some ingredients can be used in high percentages, such as some plants, others are effective in small percentages. This is true of actives such as retinol, for which 0.05 percent is high. This is easier to understand when looking at the percentage of a prescription cream bought at a pharmacy: the active ingredients may be 0.01 percent or 0.05 percent. This is enough to be effective and more could harm.


“If the ingredient name is not simple, it must be harmful.”


This is not always the case. Most ingredients, such as solvents, emulsifiers, or surfactants, have chemical-sounding names because they are called by their scientific names. For example, cetearyl alcohol sounds like a chemical, but it is an ingredient extracted from coconut. Ingredients like this are necessary to make lotions, creams, serums, scrubs, masks, or gels and, when well-chosen, are healthy for the skin. Products cannot be made solely with actives.


“Good products must have hyaluronic acid, peptides, or DNA.”


Two products can have the same ingredients and INCI, and one is effective and the other not, because the INCI gives no indication of the quality of an ingredient. Hyaluronic acid, for instance, could be of high quality and high molecular weight and cost 50 times more than a low quality hyaluronic acid of low molecular weight. High quality ingredients deliver results, but a high percentage of a poor quality ingredient will not make a good product.


“The fewer ingredients, the better.”


Think of the variety of foods and nutrients a person must eat for a healthy body, like vitamins, minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, and so forth. The same is necessary for the skin. Skin can suffer many issues, such as dehydration, free radicals, redness, acne, aging, or pigmentation. Many ingredients may be required to correct such problems. Effective products have many ingredients that work in synergy. For example, to replace a synthetic color additive, such as blue No. 5 in a toner, it takes 30 flower extracts to make a natural alternative that also delivers skin benefits. This makes for a long INCI.


When it comes to understanding INCI and product labels, manufacturing methods, quality of formulation, percentages, and quality of ingredients must all be considered. Also, remember that some manufacturers disclose the sources of their ingredients, but not all do. The key to choosing quality products with trusted ingredients is doing research and staying informed. The effort is well worth it, as better ingredients equals better results.

Unhealthy self-esteem is closely linked to an unhealthy addiction to perfectionism. This addiction breeds more insecurity, which further decimates self-esteem. Many have watched others endure great stress to be perfect, only to discover perfection only exists behind rose-colored glasses.

As the months speed by and seasons change, skin undergoes changes too, such as dehydration, flaking, roughness, redness, and cracks – all of which are signs of imbalance in the epidermis and dermis. Facial treatments can re-establish balance in the client's skin.

People are curious by nature and, for the most part, the more they know, the more likely they are to either try something new, make recommendations to friends and family, or become repeat customers. Taking advantage of this observation in the treatment room is a must for anyone looking to obtain loyal, well-informed customers who truly appreciate the professional’s work. It also does not hurt to increase retail sales, either.

by Mara Shorr, B.S., CAC II-XII and Jay A. Shorr, B.A., MBM-C, CAC I-XII


In the age of social media, it is easy for everyone to think they are an expert. From DIY posts with beauty influencers to promotional videos filling Instagram story feeds, there is no shortage of at-home beauty advice available to clients.

Scientific advances in health and skin care have created excitement among today’s aesthetic professionals. It has also caused concern that the role of the aesthetician could be marginalized or even rendered obsolete through technological progress. This concern is partly true and partly false, depending on how skin care practices are positioned. The following three service areas are unlikely to be diminished by technology or convenience.

The era of beards has been resurrected. Beards are trending and men are grooming their facial hair with pride. Savvy beard growers are investing a lot in their grooming and maintenance. The way a man styles, trims, and grooms his beard shows character. Caring for the skin under the beard, however, takes strategic planning with knowledgeable professionals.

The spa industry is a trade of hospitality and service. At its center are friendliness, warmth, compassion, and giving. Creating this atmosphere is not optional; it is a must. Clients expect skin care professionals to create a respite from the stress of their hectic daily lives. They seek a place offering luxurious treatments that will restore a sense of well-being and tranquility.

Almost a decade ago, there was a client that would come to the spa with a whiskey in one hand and an unlit cigar in the other. Although he would not drink the alcohol during the treatment or light up his cigar to smoke, it became his spa ritual. On numerous occasions, he was asked to discard of his glass cup and half chewed cigar before walking back to the treatment hallway. He would either ignore the spa employee that was asking him or respond with a sharp, "I'm just holding them." Being that he was a client with a lot of clout, the management would tell the employees to go ahead and let him enter with his vices.

Broken capillaries are inefficient, useless vessels. These tiny, web-like vessels can appear anywhere on the body, but are predominately present on the face and legs, which can make clients extremely self-conscious. When treating broken capillaries, it is important to first work with existing capillaries; avoid treatments that exacerbate them and use products that will prevent them.

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