Do I Have to Be a Chemist to Shop for Skin Care ?

Do you need a degree in chemistry to understand which ingredients are safe and why they are used? Often, deciphering an ingredient list is no easy task. For instance, consider our Simplified Face + Body Toner. Upon first glance, ingredients can look like a foreign language:

Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Aqua (Water), Alcohol, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, Deuterium Oxide(Heavy Aqua (Water), Sodium PCA, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Fructooligosaccharides (D-beta), Glucosamine HCI (D), Honey, Phospholipids, Commiphora Myrrha Oil, Sphingolipids, Hyaluronic Acid, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil*, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Oil, Benzyl Alcohol, Fragrance/Parfum

Let’s Take a Closer Look at our toner:

Here are five of our ingredients with daunting names, but are safe, practical, and effective to use.

Polysorbate 20: Sugar alcohol used as an emulsifier and humectant, allowing the product to spread easily. It is also a food grade ingredient.

Sodium PCA: Pyrrolidone-5-carboxylic acid sodium salt (also known as L-sodium PCA and sodium L-pyroglutamate) is a naturally occurring amino acid, with excellent hydrating and moisturizing powers. It’s a component of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF). Safe and non-toxic.

Fructooligosaccharides (D-beta): Derivative of naturally occurring sugar in fruits and honey. These benefit the skin by helping with moisture retention, anti-inflammatory activities, and stimulate the immune function of the skin.chemist

Glucosamine HCI (D): Naturally occurring sugar used to increase hydration and to reduce inflammation, hyperpigmentation and the appearance of wrinkles. Additionally, strengthens connective tissues to resist breakdown.

Hyaluronic Acid: Moisturizing, hydrating, slowing down water loss in your skin. HA has wound healing benefits and also helps protect the skin from pollution.


Let’s Compare with Another Popular Brand

PEG-12 Dimethicone: a Silicone-based polymer that allows for spreadability and lubrication. It is commonly used as a hair or skin conditioning agent. Considered safe.

Menthoxypropanediol: Synthetic derivative of menthol. Carries the same potential for sensitivity as menthol. Menthoxypropanediol is most often used in lip-plumping products.

Phenoxyethanol: Used for fragrance and as a preservative. Synthetic versions are commonly used however it occurs naturally in green tea. Considered a safe ingredient.

Blue 1 (CI 42090) a cosmetic colorant. Safe at low amounts.

Pentylene Glycol: Texture Enhancer, humectant. Used for skin conditioning. Safe at low amounts.

Method to the Madness

Items on an ingredient label are listed in descending order by weight, meaning the most abundant ingredient is listed first.

The safety and integrity of ingredients depend on some factors including where they were sourced, how they were prepared, and how they are metabolized by the body. All ingredients used in the Shelley Skincare line have been thoroughly vetted for safety. On our website, you will find pop-up explanations for each ingredient when you hover your mouse over the name.

Watch Out for Deceptive Marketing Claims

Here’s an example of a marketing department using creative wording to instill quality and value.

The brand claims “100% Pure Rosewater: Calms and tones the skin.”  The ingredient deck says Water, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Citronellol, Geraniol, Phenoxyethanol.

After scratching my head at their statement, I’m thinking: Are you saying that you used 100% rosewater, along with all of the other stuff or is this leading me to believe that it is made only with rosewater? Either way, it’s an interesting way to market the product.

The Wrap Up

The short answer is yes; you do have to be a chemist, or you need to trust your brand. Look at labels, review the website for ingredient transparency, check out their ‘About’ page to see who they are and why they do what they do. Make sure they have a solid chemist behind the scenes to ensure effectiveness, instead of just providing you with an “all-natural” product that doesn’t work. Trustworthy brands are open about how they source their ingredients and ensure safety in their products.


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Shelley Skin Care
Your Guide to Good Skin


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