Loving the labels (or not) -Rewiring the process of buying a product starts with reading the labels

Updated: Feb 16

(written by Priscilla Low on 15 August 2021)

If you made it past the long title of this post and came to this line, I'm guessing that you are probably one that's not fazed by unfamiliar thoughts as long as you think there's a learning point at the end. I once thought of myself as such an individual; as one, who was dealing with severe acne, willing to scour ancient books hoping to get a glimpse of Cleopatra's beauty routines. Yet in an almost cruel irony, I could never get past an ingredient list after the first few unpronounceable words appeared on labels at the back of any acne products. To overcome this self-defeating habit, I developed three intentional practices.

To know what's inside, start at the back Like reviewing a book, you usually get more from reading the summary at the back rather than assessing the colours of the book cover. And it's for a simple reason we think we understand - covers are designed, summaries are extracted. Similarly, product labels are designed, ingredients are listed. And really, just like books, where different publishers selling the same book in different countries change the covers to reach a certain audience, product designs are the variables that are experimented with to influence a potential buyer's decision. While we don't seek to undermine the creative process of a product designer as to how they conceive the product (I very much dig a mud mask design that doesn't remind me that I'd look like batman), as consumers, our focus should be that ingredient list at the back.

Google any word that contains more than four vowels (and any word that you missed out in biology class) It started with sodium lauryl sulfate, then behentrimonium methosulfate, and now I have a list of vocabularly to converse with the beautician trying to get past me to the next customer. It kind of works in a reverse fashion too, like when a lady selling sephos at a stall tells me that this product has high amounts of Hyaluronic Acid, I'd go a step further to ask if it is plant-based or animal-based. (It has no real implications for me given I'm not allergic to wheat, but it sure gets me excited when I realise that maybe the extracts of a rooster's red comb is going on my face, yippee.)

Remember that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts We like to think that one bad apple spoils the bunch. Take surfactants (surface active agents) as an example. Most of us would have given them a bad label for their harshness without further thought, and remain unaware of how certain combinations and formulae of surfactants result in the loss of their harshness. By simply giving surfactants a pass, we would have undermined what could well be an effective whole product. Instead of raising red flags on "bad" ingredients, let's try a little research first (definitely not a trivial investment, given the time taken to filter half-truths and the half-truths on these half-truths these days).

It's been a long battle with acne, or rather, a long battle with understanding the interactions between what I put on my face, and my face. I started by reading the labels, and with an added stroke of luck, SStuff found me right in my own backyard (my sister's business). Having researched the ingredient list on SStuff Skin Repair Balm, I've found the ingredients useful for my current skin. And yes, I'm a supportive sister, and a very satisfied customer while at it!

Click on the link below to try SStuff Skin Repair Balm!

Till next time,


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