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Looking Beyond Beauty Product Labels

Beyond Beauty Product Labels_Consumers demand more transparency

Do you understand all the ingredients contained in your personal care products? If no, then you’re not alone. Researchers found that although consumer demand for ingredient information is on the rise, most consumers still do not understand many of the ingredients listed on food and personal care product labels.

According to Label Insight’s 2017 Ingredient Confusion Study, 81 percent of those surveyed sometimes do not recognize the ingredients on the labels of personal care products, and only 2 percent of women said they always understand what all the ingredients are.

  In June 2017, researchers surveyed at least 1,000 men and women, ages 18 and up to better understand how consumers’ confusion about the ingredients listed on product labels impacts their purchasing behavior. 72 percent were women, 28 percent were men, and 50 percent were between the ages of 18-35. 

Some Key Insights

Confusion about ingredients listed on product labels impacts how much consumers trust brands and whether or not they will continue to buy the product in the future. In fact, the researchers also found that when consumers better understand the ingredients listed on products, not only are they more likely to trust the brand more, but 48 percent of the consumers were willing to pay more for personal care products containing ingredients they understand or recognize. 

Another key insight gained from the study, was that when label ingredients are clearly defined, it alleviates confusion and concern for consumers. For instance, when presented with a confusing, but harmless, ingredient, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, 88 percent of the research participants were not familiar with it and 49 percent said they would not be comfortable buying a product that contained it. However, once it was defined as a liquid form of vitamin C used in cosmetics and personal care products that enables the vitamin C to penetrate the skin more effectively, there was a 43 percent increase in those who say they would be "very comfortable" purchasing the product.

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Look Beyond Product Labels_Health and Beauty

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How Consumers Can Become More Informed

According to researchers at Label Insight, industries are responding to the consumer demand for more product label transparency by giving consumers the tools they need to improve their understanding about product ingredients with SmartLabel, which can be accessed by using their website or by downloading the free app. 

"Women in particular are concerned about what is in their personal care products - from lotion to shampoo to sunscreen - and will make buying decisions based on ingredient data. It will be important for manufacturers to respond and to provide solutions such as SmartLabel in order to address these demands," said Kira Karapetian, Vice President of Marketing for Label Insight.

SmartLabel™ gives consumers a way to access more detailed product information about a wide range of food, beverage, household, pet care and personal care products. It's fast and easy to use, with a consistent digital format that shares accurate product data directly from the manufacturer. 

For more information on how to use SmartLabel™ visit: smartlabel.org. To do a quick product search, click here

You can also search product label ingredient information at EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which lists overall hazard rankings, including cancer risk levels, use restrictions, and allergies and immunotoxicity levels for numerous personal care products ranging from low, moderate, to high. EWG’s Cosmetic Database also contains a data availability rating, which reflects how much scientists know or do not know about a product based on the level of research conducted.

For more information about EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, visit: ewg.org.  

Photographs by Getty Images

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