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What You Should Know About Skincare Product Packaging


Everyone knows the importance of reading the nutrition label on food, but what about reading the product packaging on skincare?

The combination different numbers, letters, and symbols can be so confusing!

However, just as you recognize the ingredients of food you put in your body, you should also be aware of what you’re putting on your skin.

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you made some purchases that helped to contribute :)

Reading the ingredients on skincare product packaging definitely influences consumer buying habits!

Navigating skincare can be difficult, so it’s my goal to help you become more informed and more confident about what you buy!

One of the ways I’m doing this is through my skincare ingredient dictionary.

My products are linked to the included ingredients, and I rate and define each ingredient for transparency.

Go check it out!

While it’s important to note that many brands can make certain claims about their standards, research can help you during the buying process.

If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to brands directly.

Here are some of the most common features of skincare product packaging and what you need to know!

Expiration Dates

You may be surprised to learn the FDA doesn’t actually require skincare products to have a shelf life or expiration date.

However, the FDA does consider determining a product’s longevity and safety to be the manufacturer’s responsibility.

With that being said, most products do have an expiration date on the packaging, either on the bottom of the bottle or box or on the edge of the tube.

Expiration dates vary among skincare brands.

Below are some of the most common ways they can appear on product packaging.

It’s not as simple as month/day/year!

  • A picture with a jar, floating lid, and an M is the period after opening (PAO) symbol, which means how long the product is good after opening (12M = 12 months.)


  • A code with 1 letter and 2 numbers means the month and the year (C16 = March 2016.)

Pro Tip: Products DO expire eventually! Keeping them for a long period of time could result in loss of efficacy, changes in the formula’s chemistry, or a buildup of bacteria. Find out more about expiration dates here.


Animal testing is conducted to check the safety of skincare products and possible allergic reactions they may cause.

This process is often painful for the animals and can cause suffering, and it raises ethical questions as well.

“Cruelty-Free” or “Not Tested on Animals” are phrases used on product packaging for skincare that’s not tested on animals before being sold for human use.

Many brands also use illustrations of bunnies to show that a product is cruelty-free.

There are three logos that are officially certified: the Leaping Bunny logo, PETA’s cruelty-free logo, and the Choose Cruelty-Free logo.

Some products are officially licensed but may not have a logo on the packaging.

This is because it costs an extra fee to display.

preview-chat-AM_cruelty free and other symbols

So, when it comes to the “Cruelty-Free” phrase or logo (or lack thereof), the bottom line is to do your research.

I also want to mention that all products in my personal line are proudly cruelty-free!

I test the efficacy of my products myself - every step of the way - to ensure they perform at their best.


The Night R1 Facial Oil is one of my favorites!

This natural, lightweight serum gently and effectively rejuvenates damaged skin.

Skin is brightened while lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation are reduced - all without being tested on animals!


Veganism is trending not only in diets but also in skincare as more consumers are turning to natural options.

According to The Vegan Society, veganism excludes the use of animal parts for any purpose.

Therefore, vegan skincare products are made without animal ingredients, animal by-products, or animal testing.

According to PETA, animal parts that can be listed in skincare ingredients are as follows:

  • beeswax/honeycomb
  • casein
  • lecithin
  • gelatin/gel
  • carmine
  • lanolin


The phrases “100% Vegan,” “Vegan-Friendly,” or “Vegan Ingredients” are used in product packaging.

There are also two official trademarks you should be on the lookout for: The Certified Vegan logo, administered by the Vegan Awareness Foundation (AKA Vegan Action), and The Vegan Trademark, certified by the Vegan Society (they originally coined the term ‘vegan’).

Overall, these phrases and logos can make shopping easier for consumers interested in vegan products.

More skincare brands are recognizing this growing market and adhering to vegan standards.


Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel harnesses the power of vegan ingredients to combat lines, wrinkles, uneven skin texture, and enlarged pores in a 2-step process.

Alpha Beta Hydroxy Acids, soothing botanicals, and antioxidants deliver a brighter, clearer, and more youthful and clearer complexion.


Whether gluten-free is a lifestyle choice or a medical necessity, there are skincare options available for you!

Your skin can’t absorb gluten due to its large protein size, according to Mayo Clinic.

However, certain products, such as lip balm, can accidentally be swallowed or ingested.

The first step is to always read the packaging.

Some skincare products can contain gluten and you may not even know it! Scientific names can be used, such as:

  • hydrolyzed wheat protein
  • hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • avena sativa
  • triticum aestivum

Other glutenous ingredients are wheat, barley, rye, and oats.

preview-chat-gluten free

Look for the phrase “Gluten-Free” or a Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) seal, which is easily recognizable.

This means that the product has been independently tested and verified, and meets strict quality standards.

preview-chat-obedy_38Obagi Medical Professional-C Eye Brightener is one of my favorite gluten-free products!

It’s perfect for dark circles and crow’s feet.

Vitamin C protects against free radical damage around the delicate eye area to give your skin a smooth, youthful look.


Defined by the Non-GMO Project, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are “living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering.”

Other names for GNOs are “genetic engineering” and “biotechnology.”

In other words, GMOs are unnatural!

GMOs can be found in creams, lotions, soaps, and more, and should be avoided because the ingredients can be soaked up by the skin in small amounts.

Research has linked GMOs to health issues and environmental pollution.


Once again, start by reading the product packaging! Look for a “Non-GMO,” “GMO-free,” or “Organic” label.

Also, the following ingredients can be derived from GMOs:

  • corn starch
  • vegetable protein
  • glycerin
  • alcohol

There are two certified labels:

The USDA organic label means GMO ingredients aren’t allowed, AND the product has to be certified organic...a win-win!

The Non-GMO Project Verified label means that the product has completed intensive third-party testing, so you can feel confident about what you’re putting on your skin.


Eminence Organics Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer is a must-try for all skin types!

Made with Stone Crop, a plant ideal for sensitive skin, lemon oil, corn germ oil, and bioflavonoids, this moisturizer evens and nourishes skin tone.

Rich in antioxidant nutrients, it also deeply hydrates and protects each layer of your skin.

Who doesn’t want to feel good inside and out?!

Final Thoughts

I want to help you build your arsenal of product knowledge!

Skincare standards vary from person to person, but being proactive and doing research is always important when it comes to product packaging.

What labels do you look for in your skincare products? Tell us in the comments!


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