12 Popular Skincare Marketing Terms Decoded

Gone are the days that we will settle not knowing what these terms mean.
BY Chella Caguin
| Last updated Mar, 2023
Skincare Marketing Terms

Have you ever gone shopping for skincare products and come across the terms “non-comedogenic” or “hypoallergenic”? Have you ever bought items with claims and benefits that you do not understand at all? Do you even know which things can be the skincare marketing terms? This problem is apparently uncommon among users of various skincare products.

Among the thousands of skincare products available in the market for public consumption, it may be a little challenging to determine what they are really for, and what skincare terminology means. Skincare manufacturers make use of terms to describe different products, and not every consumer can understand everything.

Skincare Marketing Terms

Skincare Marketing Terms

Gone are the days that we will settle, not knowing what these terms mean. This article aims to decode the most popular skincare marketing terms used in marketing skincare products today.

1. Clean

Technically speaking, the term “clean” has no clear and legal definition in skincare products. It differs from one company to another, just as it varies from one person to another. An individual can consider something clean depending on their comfort. Buying products from a brand that claims it uses clean ingredients entirely depends on how much you trust that brand.

Even if this marketing term is vague, some brands use “clean” to convey that their products are safe for both the planet and their users. Somehow, products claiming to be clean may have considered both environmental and human health by using nonhazardous elements to achieve good results. 

An example of this is how people perceive the use of silicones in skincare products. Some people consider it clean because silicone has pure chemistry and is highly unlikely to cause untoward skin reactions. On the other hand, some people view silicone as unclean as it is synthetically processed.

2. Natural

Customers nowadays seek natural skincare products because it is an excellent way to connect to nature. They are looking for more authentic products. Due to the increasing demand, marketing teams of different brands often label their products as “natural.” Claims of various skincare products as natural may be confusing as you can interpret them in many ways. Just like the term “clean,” this term has no clear or legal definition. Several interpretations are available pertaining to “natural.” 

Natural may mean that people have not processed the raw materials synthetically for the skincare products. It may also mean that they have not added any other synthetic raw materials to it. Another interpretation is that most of the ingredients come from natural sources rather than chemically producing these materials. Some examples of natural ingredients may include argan oil, rose oil, and aloe vera. 

Because of the various available interpretations, when a brand labels its products as natural, it should be its responsibility to explain what “natural” means. 

3. Organic

Among several different claims about skincare products, being “organic” is perhaps one of the only few claims that people regulate thoroughly in the skincare and cosmetic industry. Instead of explicitly referring to the product as a whole, the skincare medical terminology “organic” describes the ingredients that make up the finished product. We can associate them with how the ingredients grew, obtained, brought together, and processed.

Did people use any pesticides for the skincare product ingredients? Were GMOs included as a component of the product? How they incorporated many sulfates, parabens, or antibiotics? To consider a product to be organic, it must meet specific percentages and classifications according to the USDA.

Unfortunately, up until today, there is still no standard definition for the term “organic.” However, most organic skincare products claim that they do not contain GMOs, hazardous chemicals, phthalates or parabens, nanoparticles, or synthetic colors and fragrances. 


One good skincare marketing strategy of various skincare brands is labeling their products with ECOCERT certification. ECOCERT is one of the first organizations founded last 2013 to develop a standardized definition of “organic” and “natural” among skincare products. This organization teamed up with manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and customers of skincare products to formulate various guidelines. 

In line with these ECOCERT guidelines, companies must strictly follow the adherence to become certified. Some ingredients that people must not include in skincare products for an ECOCERT certification include the following:

  • Parabens
  • Nanoparticles
  • Silicone
  • PEG
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • PEG
  • Animal-based ingredients
  • Synthetic colors, dyes, and perfumes

Aside from the ingredients that people should not incorporate in the finished product, they should also be at least 95% natural and organic. The final packaging should also be either recyclable or biodegradable to save the environment.

5. Green

People generally use the term “green” among the skincare marketing words to convey that the whole product is natural or organic. It means that aside from utilizing organic and natural ingredients for the particular product, companies also manufactured them using renewable and eco-friendly resources. An excellent example of this term is when an organic product was produced in a facility run by solar power. 

As of today, there are already some guidelines with the proper labeling of “green” products. But there are still no laws to regulate it. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States has made guidelines to delineate the terms “natural” and “green” in the market. Still, most people define them loosely.

The term “green” may also pertain to products that you may recycle without harming the environment. Furthermore, it may also convey that the bottle or packaging used for the particular product is made from recyclables. Hence, you can also recycle them after use. 

6. Plant-Based

The majority of the cosmetics and skincare products in the former times traditionally utilize animal-based products like cochineal beetles and tallow. Because of the modernized skincare and cosmetic industry, plant-based products are slowly making their way to the top. Compared to typical animal-based products, plant-based products utilize botanical ingredients. These ingredients help nourish and bring more benefits to the skin. 

Even though plant-based products today are still not as extensive as the traditional trend, it offers various health benefits. It promotes making the skin healthier. Because, as its name implies, the ingredients come from plants, including fruits, whole grains, nuts, herbs, legumes, and even vegetables. 

Plant-based skincare products contain the essential minerals and vitamins that the skin needs. It also contains various nutrients that help the skin glow brighter, make the nail more robust, and keep the hair shinier. To ensure that the manufacturers label the skincare products as plant-based, it would not hurt to check the ingredients. It helps the consumers rest assured that they are picking a good product for their bodies. 

7. Vegan

Many of you may be wondering whether “animal-free” or “vegan” labels stay true to their claims, or are they just marketing ploys to entice the consumers? When we tried to decode this term, we found out that it is a bit of both. Not every ingredient incorporated in the skincare product is plant-based. People may also source skincare ingredients from animals and their products.

According to experts and cosmetic chemists, most cosmetics and skincare products advertised as vegan nowadays stay true to their claims. This is due to the mad cow disease outbreak during the 1990s. This outbreak forced most skincare and cosmetic companies to refrain from using animal-based ingredients, mainly from cows. 

When a product is labeled “vegan,” any substance or chemical produced from the use of plant-based ingredients is picked over any ingredient that utilizes animal-based components.

8. Non-Comedogenic

When you come across a product claiming to be non-comedogenic, you may wonder what that big word means. This skincare medical terminology is pretty simple as it pertains to skincare products that aim to help the pores from being blocked by dirt and bacteria that may lead to the formation of acne. 

But how do we know if a product is indeed what it is claiming to be? Unfortunately, some manufacturers just label their products as non-comedogenic for embellishment purposes. Most non-comedogenic products are typically free of oil and reduce the tendency of breakouts. But none can give a 100% guarantee that they won’t. As a matter of fact, most products with this label are dimethicone-containing, even if it is a known aggravator of acne problems. 

There are also no state regulations, guidelines, or criteria from different organizations as to what makes a product “non-comedogenic.” Hence, we may or may not totally guarantee the use of “non-comedogenic” as a marketing term. Because, until now, there is no standard that you can follow. 

9. Hypoallergenic

The term “hypoallergenic” is one of the skincare marketing words used to attract consumers. Hypoallergenic skincare products imply that their use would unlikely lead to an allergic reaction. Eventually, it is suitable for individuals with reactive or sensitive skin. But if you think that all skincare products labeled as hypoallergenic would guarantee no allergic reactions for you, you better think twice! Some products with this label may still contain ingredients. And thus they cause allergic reactions to some consumers, including the use of preservatives and dyes.

For a product to be verified as hypoallergenic, it needs to undergo HRIPT or human repeat insulin patch testing. Even if this test does not guarantee a hundred percent success due to its limited test subjects, it is beneficial because researchers tested it upon actual humans.  

Around a hundred individuals differing in skin types are picked to become part of the test. The products to be released will be applied to the skin. And then researchers will evaluate them after a particular time. This is an excellent way to determine if the skincare product is irritating or allergy-inducing to the skin. If the results are satisfactory and no adverse reactions appear, people can label a product as hypoallergenic. 

10. Sustainable

Sustainable skincare products have become the fad nowadays. Because it meets the beauty standards when it comes to our skins and helps take care of the environment. Some brands make an effort to do their part as stewards of nature by avoiding harming the surroundings. It includes sourcing eco-friendly ingredients and packaging materials.

However, reality bites because sustainable skincare is vague and difficult to define. Until today, there is no standard definition or guidelines on what makes a product sustainable. This unregulated skincare marketing term may mean anything because there are no specific criteria for it.

Various skincare companies may claim that their products are sustainable and eco-friendly. But it may just be a label with empty meaning. It is a good marketing campaign, and it attracts buyers. So, you can simply put it in whatever skincare product is available for purchase. 

11. Cruelty-Free

Products claiming to be cruelty-free have been gaining attention in the market today. Because of this, skincare companies are using this label to entice consumers by producing, or rather, labeling their products are cruelty-free. These products have not been tested by animals, and the world is clamoring about it. 

In the 1950s, the animal rights movement began and was vigorously campaigned for. Traditionally, cosmetics and skincare products are tested on animals as an experiment to gauge their concentrations, formulas, and effects. Beauty with Cruelty, an organization founded in support of manufacturing companies of fake furs, was the pioneer and eventually expanded its coverage for skincare products and cosmetics. 

Brands claiming to be cruelty-free are the ones who stay away from using animals for the safety and efficacy of their products. It may get confusing because there is still no government regulation regarding this label.

12. Environmentally Friendly (Eco-Friendly)

Environmentally friendly, otherwise known as eco-friendly, does not have an exact and concise definition. Like most of the famous marketing buzzwords utilized by huge manufacturers, people can interpret the term “eco-friendly” differently. No guidelines or criteria are not there to justify whether a product is eco-friendly up to this date. 

This particular term can connote various things. First, it can pertain to the skincare products’ packaging that utilizes recycled materials. It can also mean that the manufacturing company ensured minimal waste and pollution during the whole process of creating the product. Another interpretation for this could be that the company is animal-friendly, and no animal testing occurred. 

To better understand the term “eco-friendly,” the consumers must think of it as an umbrella term that blankets many different meanings. People can produce skincare products that do not create any damage to the environment in several ways. Thus it becomes maybe a minute step or a huge one. You can find out more about the products labeled as eco-friendly by checking the brand’s website and doing further research.

Finding out more about the definitions skincare ingredients labeled as eco-friendly can be done by checking the brand’s website and doing further research.

Final Thoughts

Final thoughts about skincare marketing terms

As consumers, we all want to grab the skincare product that would best benefit our skin. We all aim for healthy and glowing skin. So, knowing the most popular skincare marketing terms is indeed a huge advantage for us. It also helps us realize that not every big word we see is a hundred percent accurate. Not all brands don’t guarantee to produce the results that they are claiming. 

The bottom line is not to give in to the hype that the marketing strategies of different manufacturers marketing skincare products use to lure consumers. Although these buzzwords may be true, safe, and effective, take note that some ingredients may still not work on your skin.

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