A Guide to Beauty-Product Labels
You don’t need a Ph.D. in chemistry to decipher the terms: Real Simple translates.
What it means: The maker has conducted some testing of the product in a clinical setting, like a lab.
What it doesn't mean: That anything significant has been “proven.”
Best for: Someone willing to do her own researching of independent data about ingredients.
What it means: The product has a low chance of causing allergies.
What it doesn't mean: It has been tested for all allergies. “There’s no way to prove it won’t cause a reaction in some people,” says Howard Murad, a Los Angeles dermatologist.
Best for: People with sensitive skin or a history of allergic reactions.
What it means: Found on sunscreens, it tells you the product protects against both ultraviolet A and B rays.
What it doesn't mean: That you’re fully covered. No matter what the label says, no sunscreen blocks out all harmful rays.
Best for: Everyone. Broad spectrum is the best protection available.
What it means: The product contains temporary brighteners, like mica, or ingredients that help even out skin tone.
What it doesn't mean: Lightening, a term regulated by the FDA. A cream can’t claim it will “lighten” the skin or dark spots unless it contains the chemical hydroquinone.
Best for: People with mildly uneven skin tone.
Most Popular Galleries
If your dark circles aren’t quite this adorable, you don’t have to grin and bear it. Try these (en)lightening strategies to minimize them.