No one wants to have the wool pulled over their eyes but it’s probably happening everyday you walk into a store. Become a little more discerning to the marketing hype out there however, and you will have back the power to make more informed and educated decisions when buying and bringing beauty, personal care and cleaning products into your home.

(Read the section on greenwashing if you haven’t already to find out why it is not enough to trust that a product is “organic” or “natural” when a manufacturer tells you that it is.)

The first step in becoming an ingredients detective is knowing how to read an ingredient label. Luckily for you, it isn’t rocket science! Just divide the list roughly into thirds. The top third usually contains 90%-95% of the ingredients in your product, the middle third usually contains about 5%-8% of the ingredients, and the bottom third contains 1%-3% of the ingredients. You now have a pretty good idea about the concentration of ingredients you’re putting on your skin.

The next step is to read what ingredients are on the product. And don’t worry; you don’t need to be a scientist or chemist familiar with the long list of tongue twisting names to get this one right. You just need a rough idea of the common synthetic nasties most non-organic products contain and you need to also apply a little bit of logic. You see, this is where natural ingredients should stand out. If the product really is as natural as it claims to be then the ingredients should be easily recognisable and if they are not, then the warning bells should start to ring.

There are a few widely used nasty synthetic ingredients, and if a product does not contain these, you can presume (if the other ingredients look fairly recognisable) that the other ingredients are safe. The reasoning here is that it is not all that easy or cost effective to make products without these ingredients and so if a manufacturer has gone to the effort to exclude these then they can probably be trusted.

Open the page on synthetic ingredients to avoid, and print or write it out. Keep it in your wallet and the next time you want to buy anything, you can do a quick check.

Told you it was simple!