Ever since I was a child, I loved to make people feel and look beautiful.

What the Words On the Back Of Skincare Products Actually Mean!

This whole beauty world bit can be TOTALLY challenging to navigate, to say the least! Between all the damn ingredients to choose from, the brands to consider, what words mean on labels, the treatments to research…. the list goes on and on! I feel ya! One Cheeky wrote us and said she just gets into a skincare store of some kind and she just panics. We’ve all been there. And it’s not like reviews are in the stores in real life either, so in-store shopping can be super overwhelming.

We try to touch upon each of those concerns on a regular basis, but one item from above that we’ve not touched on all too often is what the actual words mean on skincare labels! You know what I mean, right? What in god’s name does non-comedogenic mean? Like for the love! The anatomy words in regards to skincare are already hard enough & lawd, ingredient words like hyaluronic acid… I mean it’s like a typo frenzy every time we’re blogging. While we can’t make words easier to spell, we can certainly help you & us, understand what they actually mean.

So when it comes to the back of y’alls skincare bottles, you’re bound to see some words that you’ve heard, maybe haven’t… whatever the case may be, you may recognize them as being ‘good’ but what do they REALLY mean! You feel me? Let’s dig in!


This is a great one to get us started! Any word that’s similar to ‘allergic’ gets me all bent out of shape. I have the worst allergies & am constantly blowing my nose, using eye drops, nose sprays, netty pots, whatever I’m there. And I’m pretty similar when it comes to skincare too! My skin can be super sensitive… it’s gotten better as I’ve gotten older, but I tend not to risk it and am often on the hunt for the word ‘hypoallergenic’ on skincare. Hypoallergenic is a broad term that means a product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. But it’s in no way a guarantee. And that’s a big, big thing to consider. Just because the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction, it could still have preservatives, strong smells, certain ingredients, etc. So while no product can say ‘allergy-proof’, you can consider products with a hypoallergenic label to be better for your skin overall, but it’s only half the puzzle. Take hypoallergenic as a guide!


I weirdly love this word! You’ve most likely seen this word on products meant to address acne & oily skin. Fun fact,  comedo/comedones is the word for blackheads, so non-comedogenic means that the formula is designed not to clog pores, but it’s not saying it wont cause breakouts! Just like the word hypoallergenic, the skincare industry doesn’t monitor these standards and there isn’t anything on the market that can promise not to irritate your skin causing acne. So this one too, should be used as a guide. However, if you love this word like I do & seem to find it tried & true of products, consider finding gels or water-based products rather than heavy & oily creams.

Active Ingredients

I learned in high school that the first ingredients were the most potent! That has totally stayed with mwah. I shock myself when I retain something from those days! Winning! An active ingredient is one that is basically able to biologically affect the skin. Usually, these are at the top of the ingredients list and will often have a percentage listed on the packaging. It’ll be the products claim to fame… like 10% vitamin C!


This is one of my favs too! I am terrible and sometimes steer clear of products that say natural…. I know, I know! But hey, I find that not all natural products are made alike and I tend to go for the ‘good stuff’… but that’s just me. Ain’t no shame in my game. Products that are considered ‘natural’ refers to its ingredients – they should be sourced from nature rather than created synthetically in a lab somewhere! And here’s my main problem with ingredients labeled ‘natural’….. For a product to be advertised as natural, a brand needs to provide evidence that just 5% of its ingredients are natural. 5%! Yup!

#CheekyConfidential Generally, if a product lasts more than 3 weeks after the date of opening, it’s probably NOT 100% natural as it uses chemical preservatives to maintain its stability.


Alcohol in skin care falls into 1 of 3 big old categories: simple, fatty, or aromatic. Sounds delicious!

  • Fatty – Works to prevent skin’s moisture loss and acts as a thickening agent
  • Aromatic – Often known as benzyl, is used in VERY small doses in fragrance as a solvent
  • Simple – This is the problem child! If used in a high concentration, this alcohol may weaken the skin barrier function and increase skin dryness. Not good!
If dry skin is a concern, look for products FREE from simple alcohol – i.e. isopropyl alcohol and denatured alcohol (alcohol denat)
Do you guys see any others you’re not familiar with? Let us know in the comment’s section below!

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