Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why Is It So Hard To Read Product Labels?

Dear Product Manufacturers,

Why do you make it so darned hard to read your labels?!  

I did a lap of Rite-Aid, CVS, and Walgreens this afternoon to see if there were any new goodies to find.  I probably read close to 100 labels and my eyes are not very happy about it.  I have above-average eyesight and yet I was squinting, scrunching and straining to read labels.  The cosmetics labels were the worst. 

The mainstream cosmetic companies (Maybelline, Cover Girl, Revlon, L'oreal) had the majority of their ingredients inside the product labels.  'Peel Here' to see ingredients.  Three broken nails and plenty of store employee stinkeye later, I have read all of them. 

Not surprisingly, every label I had to peel back contained questionable to bad ingredients.  The bottom-dollar brands I frequently malign such as Wet 'N Wild and N.Y.C. had their ingredients printed in readable type on the back of the product with only a few exceptions.  So a big thumbs up to them.  I wish they didn't use crap ingredients, but at least they are open about it.

Do they make it difficult to read the product ingredients on purpose? Oh, yeah.  Consumer behavior has changed drastically in the past decade.  People are paying attention to where their products are made, animal testing, and the all-important ingredients list.  The harder the label is to read, the better.  The average consumer is not going to stand in the store squinting and scraping at a product label with an store employee hovering a few feet away to make sure you don't steal something.  They are going to glance at the product, check out the price tag and if they like what they see, in the basket it goes.  Those of us who are trying to live a more chemical-free life are anything but AVERAGE.

Products and Ingredient Lists:
  • If there is a product I am interested in and I can't read it, I take a photo of it to look it up online later.
  • I do most of my 'window shopping' online.  I watch dozens of You Tube videos a week of people talking about products they like and I start digging around until I find the ingredients list.
  • Manufacturer websites.  This SHOULD be the only place we need to look for ingredients, but that is usually not the case.  I always start there, but usually end up on a retail website.
  • Retail websites:,,, Cosmetic Safety Database
Please post any other sites you go to look up product ingredients below! 

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