Ingredients in Cosmetics and Beauty Products: The Real Story

Dear Beauty & Makeup Lovers,

As a part of my old job, I would read IMBB everyday and secretly admire the efforts you put into looking good. Sometimes it would break my heart to see those efforts and money go to waste because of the mistruths perpetuated by the very companies I worked for.
ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products
My former company is a supplier of the ingredients that go into beauty products. I know exactly what lengths they can reach to sell these ingredients to the companies that manufacture the end products. And I’ve also seen enough of the strategies that these companies adopt to sell the product to you.

Now that I no longer work there, I think it’s time I bring some attention to the ingredients that go into the products we use in our day to day life.

Indian Law doesn’t require disclosure of ingredients in cosmetic products. As a result, cosmetic companies take full advantage of this fact and misrepresent the ingredients.

Reading the Ingredients Label on Cosmetics and Beauty Products

herbal beauty products1. 100% Herbal/Natural– Please note this is absolute crap. For every hundred products claiming to be 100% herbal, about 3 actually are. And guess what? Those three are about as expensive as a black market kidney. So all those companies named after flowers or some variant of ayurveda are about as herbal as my woolen sweater.

2. Containing the natural goodness of blah blah blah– The goodness of blah? Why not include blah itself? Half the time the only thing blah-related that’s added is a cheaper alternative to mimic its benefits and the corresponding fragrance.

3. Containing real extracts of (magical plant/flower/vegetable/fruit that’s more powerful than superman on steroids)– real extract? As opposed to what, an artificial extract? What’s an extract really? It’s just a really intelligent way of saying that the magical ingredient has been mulched, squeezed, powdered till it reaches the stage where it can finally be chemically over-processed and added in its least magical (read: cheapest) form to the final product.

rati beauty ad

4. Hypoallergenic, Non-Comedogenic, etc: These characteristics are not an added benefit but actually need to exist in every product regardless of its function. Needless to say, they don’t. But that doesn’t stop them from claiming it. In India, all it takes for a company to call their product hypoallergenic is typing the word out when designing the product packaging. As for being non-comedogenic, absolutely no product should clog your pores, ever.
no animal testing
5. Not Tested on Animals/Cruelty free– Ya, of course, but only because somebody else has already done it in the past. New Ingredients are tested by the suppliers and then sold to these companies after showing all the test results. So are these ‘cruelty-free’ cosmetic companies doing it? NO. Are they propagating it? HELL YEAH.

6. SPF– This is the worst case of product fraud I’ve ever seen. Without regulation, these guys slap any number on the box. I have seen sunscreen formulations from some very popular Indian brands which don’t really contain any UV filters. And I know women who use these brands. I would recommend using only international brands as they usually have to meet some regulation standards. If you are using an Indian brand that is also exported, they are probably safe to use. But, this is one area where we as consumers have to be very careful.

7. Preservative-free– All I can say is ‘Beware of Fungus’. Between parabens and fungus; I choose parabens, thank you very much.

8. Surfactant-free– Aaaah I see, so there’s no ingredient in my shampoo/facewash/shower gel that will actually clean dirt???? No problem. Oh wait! Natural Cleansers, you say? Where is it on the ingredient list? Oh yeah, there’s no list.

(Did you know that water is the natural cleanser that many surfactant-free products depend on?)

I wish I could name some of the offending companies. I do value my freedom hence I will refrain from doing so. I hope you guys find this information of some use and that it helps you to become more aware consumers.

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52 thoughts on “Ingredients in Cosmetics and Beauty Products: The Real Story

  1. When i read it, i was like :brokenheart: … i want to :hunterwali: these companies… But why dont the indian govt is doing sumthng abt it? May be they hardley bother abt these ……

  2. Bravo! Really great of you to write this article. And I have decided to change my HG sunscreen brand to a non-Indian one, hoping it is regulated (extremely sensitive skin you see).
    Keep it coming. 🙂

  3. oh wow..makes me so skeptical of everything..which brings me to the question that if we are buying expensive products is it really worth it? will a 60 bucks face wash work just as well as a 500 bucks one?

  4. Thanks for this! If you cannot name the offending companies – how about naming the companies that do not offend? Will be of great help.

  5. :yahoo: im totally in terms with you. im happy that finally people are realisn the facts. the herbal tag also gives the companies a tax reduction. :methinks: and the percent of natural extracts when compared to the huge liist of chemical stabilizers they add is meagre.
    im sick of indian skin care industries and theire never ending lies.
    you did a great job by lettin people know the truth.

  6. super excellent article , SRV. My sunscreen just got over guess i would buy a good one thi stime. Cant thank you enough for this article. :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship: :worship:

        1. Fact of the matter is to buy expensive products from well known international brands. Unlike Indian companies that are not monitored by any central agency, the international companies have to get FDA approval (or equivalent of their country) before they can even manufacture a prod. This is a very strict governing body. It is like a ISO standard review process for cosmetic and drug manufacturers. No small feat.

          So stop buying cheap stuff ppl!! INVEST is your skin 😉 You will not regret it.

  7. Oh finally someone who called the Boogey bear out ! I’ve been crying hoarse and telling my friends about the very same things that you have written about since i know the bogus and sham this ‘natural- herbal’ stuff is and cruelty free- that’s another pony horse ! Your article is precise and wonderful ! Its said that so many Indian cosmetics are actually playing with the psychology of Indian consumers and getting away with. About sunscreen just ditch those chamomile and aloe vera ones go for prescribed sunscreens available with chemists.

  8. hey guys you got to check out this video on youtube- ” Story Of Cosmetics”. its actually good and helpfull..!!! its about the reality of some cosmetic products.

  9. :thanks: :thanks: :thanks: hey s.r.v….Thanx for the informative post….It surely is an eye opener….its so confusing now…wat to buy & wat not to…. ?:)

  10. Can anyone plz suggest some good brands for sunscreen, moisturisers,facewash,shampoos,conditioners, plz…because these are the products we use the most frequently….other still we can give a miss…plz… :((

    1. dimpi i have shifted to the body shop shampoos and conditioners. it is an international company and I am sure it has to go through quality check. I am going to pick up the clinique sunscreen from now one- the one jinal reviewed. guess i’d be back with lush angels on bare skin for my face wash. :struggle:

  11. Hey,
    Just loved your article,SRV.Lot of websites give info but sometimes I have my doubts since the person who writes such articles is not creditable.Sometimes the info is controversial.You have have worked for cosmetics industry so you have first hand knowledge about what goes on there.

    You have mentioned “preservative free” products.I have a doubt-Please try to clear my doubt.I am using Biotique pineapple foaming gel cleanser.It is ‘organically pure” ,”preservative free” and “without harmful chemicals”.It can be used upto 3 yrs.

    How can a product thats preservative free,have a shelf life of 3 yrs?Lot of articles on IMBB have this question…are the companies making false claims ? do they use preservatives?

    I am too curious to know the answer.I am sure a lot of people want to know the secret.hehe

    Please write more articles.It was one of the best aricles on IMBB.Thank you for sharing your experience with us. 🙂 :))

  12. :shocked: :shocked: :shocked: :shocked: was my first reaction…and then it just made perfect sense. :wilt:
    :thanks: so so much for writing this article,as it a very useful and important thing to remember. :haanji:
    I will be much more wary of these :nono: points now. 😀
    and the goodness of blah just made me :lol2:

  13. Excellent article and so well written!! :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

    No SPF in sunscreens??!!! Does that include Lotus too??? 😯 😯 :nababana: If yes then No wonder I get tanned inspite of using sunscreen everyday :wilt:
    Can somebody please tell me effective (and cheap) sunscreen available in India???

  14. srv not only the researchs well done but i loved how u wrote this.it isnt boring to read.u have a good vocab and yes i so wish we knew some of such companies by name.thankyou very veyr much for posting this on IMBB.

  15. Hey All,

    I am sharing with you what my Dermatologist[very famous lady in Central Kerala] said:
    1. Using sun-screens is of no specific use unless you are out on the street 24/7 and need a layer of cream between your skin and sun. She said that sunscreens only work if applied atleast 30mins before and again, only for maximum an hour, even then highly questionable. So why are we spending huge amounts here! She suggested me a sun-tan removal home remedy which is lemon juice+curd, instead of anywhole glycolic acid/retinol cream.
    2. She told me that skin basically absorbs the stuff you put on it and pass it on to internal organs through blood. There have been cases where shampoos caused serious internal problems. So basically, the question is would you eat the stuff you put on ur skin? Else dont apply on it..
    3. Except for color-makeup, there is no actual use for any cosmetic product we try, except may be a few medical prescribed ones. Any benefit that we see for any cosmetics comes out of the active ingredient which is usually a high-powered chemical[So a No-No for me!] or a herbal additive[so why dont we use the natural one!].

    Having said this, this is the HG routine she suggested to me:
    For face: All natural face packs, home made scrubs and for cleansing-green grams powder 🙂 If going out and require 1,use a sunscreen post advise from a dermatologist.
    For Hair: Mild shampoos, she suggested J&J baby shampoo, i use currently Baba Ramdev herbal one. For hair packs, the normal combo of Henna/Reetha/Amla/Shikkakai and hibiscus powder.

    However, this is the opinion of a single person. But i feel that if a dermatologist who has been practising for atleast 15+ feels that “lesser the chemicals, the better”, i should heed her! What say!

  16. very true devi.very apt.the times like we stay in there is a drift towards the chemical:voddo formulation but yes the good old of saying the lesser(chemicals)the better and your derma is very right .how i wish my derma could suggest me things like these natural remedies instead of me having to pop antibiotics every now and then. :shame:

  17. my god u had me thinking
    i have put in some thought about these when i buyb stuff like non comedongenic
    some packs even put claims on the sly…
    and i always wondered the spf part
    but customers are def gettin smarter

    as they
    “CUSHTUMBER IIJJ IS THE KING” 😀

  18. wht an eye opening article..!! and u have a very interesting way of writing… 😀

    about sunscreen now im even scared to use my lotus one….. is lotus exported? does anyone know?

  19. Somehow I am not at all shocked seeing this. It is only recently that some Indian companies have taken to listing the entire ingredient list. Many “herbal” companies still list only the key ingredients – ingredients that they feel are effective in selling the product – and at least one company lists the percentage of ingredients (which if you see properly is like less than 1%) concentrations in a vague “base.” What is this base, and how effective is this miracle ingredient that is in such microscopic quantities, nobody asks them. The reason these people continue to sell is, they are relatively inexpensive, and to switch completely to international brands is not an economically possible option for everyone. What I would suggest is look through ingredient lists, only brands with completely listed ingredients, no “key ingredients” lists or “active ingredients” list, should be purchased. That will encourage other Indian companies also to follow the rules.

  20. very good article SRV… waise bhi I was having the same doubt- they say this free and that free and how come the expiry date is 3yrs ahead? expiry date ka koi funda bhi hain kya???

  21. Whoa! Horrifying facts! Thanks a lot srv…. By the way u can name a few companies that do not give any false claims na??

  22. Please give us some names S.R.V !!!
    This is a brilliant article and we all thank you for that :thanks:
    Why don’t you suggest some brands that DO WHAT THEY SAY? Please please please :waaa:

  23. u know the most amazing thing i came across while researching chemical companies, is that one most companies that make floor cleaners, dyes to be used for wall paints, preservatives , products for petrochemicals etc also make ingredients used in shampoos, blushes, conditioners. but a little bit of chemistry is good. if after cleaning the floor , it cleans my hair it is good. the problem is when companies pretend that the product is made in a certain eco friendly way and can be used on sensitive hair.

    what is interesting is in other countries, companies that manufacture medicines also make over the counter beauty products. they work out cheaper, are more effective and being tested etc, are guaranteed to not react badly. i wish we get these brands soon in india.

  24. Ho this is scary but makes perfect sense too…. will keep all the points in mind…thank you for the wonderful article and i liked the way in which you have written it too . :waytogo:

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