Skincare 101 – 10 Skincare Jargon/Terms Demystified

skincare jargon, skincare terms, natural skincare, organic skincare, beauty flat lay, flat lay, mens skincare, anti aging skincare, natural cosmetics, organic cosmetics, In today’s Beauty and Cosmetic Market there are so many brands and products vying for your hard earned dollars. It can be hard to know which products are right for you or even which brands you can trust.

Today, brands use a lot of buzz words such as “Natural”, “Dermatologist Approved” and “Organic” in hopes of standing out in the crowd. These marketing terms are splashed all over cosmetic products, but what do these terms actually mean?

Clinically Tested

Clinically Tested refers to a product or an ingredient that has been tested in a clinical trial for its safety and effectiveness. These studies are done in a clinical setting and usually tested under strict standards to prove claims such as “reduces the appearance of fine lines”.

However, it is hard to know the conditions of the testing. Was it only tested on a handful of people, say only 10 people? Also, not all results are going to be the same for every person. And the clinical trial/test could have been done on one ingredient but not the whole formulation.


Cosmeceutical combines the words “cosmetics” and “pharmaceuticals” to define products that contain biological ingredients that may have a pharmaceutical effect on the skin. Often these can be natural based ingredients that can have anti-inflammatory or antibacterial properties.

However, there is no regulation of the category of Cosmeceuticals. This is purely a marketing buzzword to gain your trust of a brand and make you think their products are more safe and effective.

Dermatologist Tested/Approved

This term usually means that a Dermatologist has tested and approved the use of the product. Dermatologists are to be trusted right? I mean they deal with skin all day.

The problem with this term is that often Dermatologists are paid to make these claims for a product. Or even worse, they are given the products to hand out to their clients and to report back the findings. So if none of the clients had reactions, the dermatologist could say they support the product. This is just another marketing term that really has no weight behind it.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils go hand and hand with the “natural” products. More and more companies that are making “natural” products are using essential oils in their products. This can be for certain healing benefits or just as a fragrance.

The problem with essential oils is that they can still cause severe reactions for certain individuals. Not all essential oils are great for the skin, especially a more sensitive skin. It is always best to use essential oils in some sort of carrier oil and to spot test them before using any products that contains essential oils.

Fragrance Free

Typically, fragrance free means that the product has no added fragrances. Again, this is one that is not regulated and companies can use the term “Fragrance Free” as long as they have not included an ingredient for the sole purpose of scenting the product.

However, they can use what is known as “masking fragrances” in order to hide the unpleasant odors from other ingredients. Make sure to read the label and see if “parfum” or “fragrance” are listed and how high up on the ingredient listing it is.


Hypoallergenic is a broad statement which basically means that the product or ingredients used will not cause an allergic reaction.

However, there is no current legal standard or regulation to uphold these claims. Also, we all react to products differently so it is impossible to guarantee that a product will not cause an allergic reaction. What is fine for me to use, could cause a severe reaction for you. In fact, Hypoallergenic products could still contain fragrance which can be irritating for most.

Natural (All Natural)

Using more Natural products has become not only a beauty trend but something that more and more consumers are moving towards. Natural products typically mean that the products contain ingredients that are sourced from nature. These include plant extracts, essential oils and more.

The problem with a company using the term “Natural” is that there is no governing body over these product claims. In fact, in the US, products only need to have 5% of their ingredients be natural in order for cosmetic companies to use this claim on their products. A “natural” product can still include preservatives and artificial colors.

As I’ve mentioned in previous videos, natural doesn’t always mean better. Poison Ivy is natural but I’m not going to rub that all over my face. In fact, essential oils are considered “natural” but most people have severe reactions to certain essential oils and essential oils are something you want to avoid during pregnancy. Just because an ingredient comes from a plant, does not mean its safe.


This term is often seen on products for oily and acne prone skin.  It simply means that the product will not clog the pores. While it may not clog pores, it could still cause sensitivity and breakouts.

Again, there is not regulation in the use of this term, so companies are free to use it on products without any proof or guarantee that it will actually hold up to the claims being made. In fact, even though it is stated “noncomedogenic” on the packaging, it still may cause some clogging in your pores.


Organic is a marketing buzz word that appears everywhere from food items to our beauty products. Organic means the product or ingredients sourced were not sprayed with chemicals or pesticides. It can also mean that there are no chemical ingredients in the product.

However, while there are governing bodies and ruling standards that help to define what Organic is, they often disagree and have varying standards. For instance, one certification states that only 70% of the product must be organic. A product can be labeled “Organic” if only a few of the ingredients used are organic, but there can later be more chemicals or non-organic ingredients added.

I always tell my clients that Organic doesn’t mean “healthy” or “better for you”. Cookies can be labeled organic but they are not the healthiest thing you would want to eat. This is true with your cosmetic products too. Read the labels and see what are the top ingredients listed and which ones are indeed organic.

Paraben Free

Parabens are a form of preservatives that have been in use for years. Recently, parabens have been linked to all kinds of reactions and more. In fact a study showed that the parabens in deodorants could be linked to breast cancer.

However, that study was actually discredited and there has been no further proof that the presence of parabens is linked to breast cancer. While there are now strict guidelines regulating the amount and type of parabens used, its best to use common sense. Products claiming to be “Paraben Free” are using fear based marketing to sell to thier products.

There is no proof that parabens are causing cancers, but in my opinion it is better to be safe than sorry. Read the labels. I opt for avoiding preservatives in my products when I can and luckily more and more companies are doing away with them.

Final Thoughts

Of course, we want to use what is best for our skin so we get the best results for clear and healthy skin. However, these marketing buzzwords don’t guarantee that the products with these claims will be the best thing for your skin.

Don’t buy into marketing hype and think a product is safe and effective just because it’s listed as “Organic” or “Natural”.  It’s important to know what ingredients work or don’t work for your skin, and read the labels.

If you have any questions on these terms or skincare in general, sound off in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help.


  1. I love this post! Thank you for providing education on these terms. I’m not a beauty junkie by any means but I do try to be mindful of the products I buy. I have sensitive skin and I prefer to buy things that are more natural. It’s disappointing that there’s less regulation in the beauty industry. I hope things will change over time to create better standards. Thanks for sharing this information, it’s very insightful!


    • I do hope we will have more standards in regulations in place. Its something that the EU is doing really well right now when it comes to cosmetics. Thank you for stopping by!


  2. Great post! As someone with eczema and a lot of allergies, I have to be careful about what I put on my skin, and the marketing on a lot of products can be especially misleading. Thank you for debunking a lot of these terms for us. I will definitely need to share this on my next link love!


    • Yes, I think for people who are very sensitive it can be an issue when we buy into the hype. Thank you for stopping by.


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