The Best Tools to Read Ingredient Lists

Have you ever looked at the back of a beauty product to see the formulation? You probably felt confused or overwhelmed. It might seem like you need a chemistry degree to understand what goes inside your beauty products.

It’s an urban cliche that if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you shouldn’t put it on your face. However, that’s not always the case. While some people only use “natural” products (an unregulated term that’s a whole other beast), not all hard-to-pronounce components are harmful. So, how do you tell the beneficial ingredients from ones you should avoid?

Thankfully, it’s 2021, and there is an app, website, or expert for everything. If you’ve been on social media platforms like Tiktok or Instagram, there is a chance you’ve seen someone talk about the importance of ingredients. Here are our favorite online resources to learn about ingredients and what they do in our beauty products.

Skincare By Hyram

Hyram is a skinfluencer Youtuber with a passion for skincare and skin education (click here). Hyram was at the front of the skincare revolution. His motto is that ingredients never lie.

If you want to learn how to read cosmetic ingredient lists from Hyram, watch here. Alongside this video, Hyram has many other videos that bust ingredient myths and expose the truth of fragrance in skincare.

Think Dirty – Shop Clean

The Think Dirty App makes shopping clean extremely convenient (click here). You can scan any cosmetic product, and Think Dirty breaks down all the potentially harmful ingredients in it.

The Think Dirty database already has millions of products uploaded, from name brands to indie beauty. When you receive the ingredient list breakdown, you can tap on each ingredient to learn everything about it.

There is also an option to shop and view cleaner alternatives to your current products. It’s now possible to get an instant product breakdown to see what is in your cosmetic products.

ThinkDirty makes reading formulation lists easier than ever. Their mission is to make you an informed consumer. Not only is Think Dirty revolutionizing the beauty world, but they also have a monthly subscription box so you can find a new clean beauty routine.

You can download Think Dirty on the App Store (click here) and Google Play(click here).


INCIDecoder is every skincare enthusiast’s dream search engine (click here). Type an ingredient in the search bar, and INCIDecoder will give you a complete definition.

These breakdowns include what the ingredient does, quick facts, geeky details, and sources to help you understand what’s in your products. The best part? INCIDecoder puts all their info in layman’s terms.

Whether you need to snap a picture of a product or copy/paste ingredient lists, INCIDecoder will analyze it for you in seconds. It’s never been so easy to know what you’re using!

Paula’s Choice 

Paula’s Choice is a popular name within the skincare world. Its wide range of effective, no-nonsense skincare products makes the brand a cult-classic. Besides the product line, the brand has a Paula’s Choice Ingredient Dictionary (click here).

Just like any other dictionary, you can find ingredients alphabetically, but you can search by category as well. Paula’s Choice gives each ingredient a rating and a brief overview. If you want to know more, click on the ingredient for an in-depth description.

For even more information, check out Paula’s Choice Expert Advice Articles (click here).


While there are many other tools that breakdown ingredient lists, these resources are popular and respected among the clean beauty community. Hyram popularized the importance of reading ingredient lists. More and more beauty influencers are following his lead.

Apps like Think Dirty make cosmetic shopping a breeze. Ingredient dictionaries like INCIDecoder and Paula’s Choice give you simple breakdowns of any ingredient. These are all beginner-friendly options for reading cosmetic labels. Now you know how to research formulations with ease!

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