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“Dermatologist-tested”, “natural”, “cruelty-free” etc – we see labels like this thrown around on cosmetics advertisements and on the products themselves all the time. But do you actually know what these terms mean?

If your answer is no, well, we’ve got you. Here’s everything you need to know about these cosmetics labels – what they mean, whether they are legitimate or just marketing buzzwords as well as what are some exciting products that fall into each category that you might want to check out.

Products for sensitive or acne-prone skin

Cosmetic Claims


This claim are often found on brands that market themselves as gentle and suitable for sensitive skin.

Hypoallergenic means the product and its ingredients have a low risk of causing allergic reactions to the user. However, there are no standards or requirements when it comes to what “low risk” means, or how low is “low”.

Everyone’s skin is different. An ingredient may be safe for some but still cause irritation for others. That’s why it’s important to know what ingredients you are allergic to and check the ingredient list of products before buying to minimise the chance of allergic reactions.


“Non-comedogenic” is a label often found on products for acne-prone and oily skin. It means the product and its ingredients are less likely to clog your pores.

Again, there are no standards for the comedogenicity of products, or how likely the product is to clog the pores. Ingredients that don’t clog the pores of the test subjects may still clog yours.

This is not to say that brands who claim to be non-comedogenic are lying or falsely advertise their products. They might really use ingredients that are generally less likely to clog the pores, but there is no guarantee it will be the case on your skin.


Again, if a product is dermatologist-tested, it only means it has been tested and reviewed by a dermatologist. There’s no regulations on what type of test it is, whether the dermatologist is a neutral party or actually works for the brand. You are better off consulting your own dermatologist on what products and ingredients will work for your skin.

Animal welfare

Cruelty-free vs. Vegan

Cruelty-free and vegan are two easily confused terms when it comes to beauty products and their impact on animal welfare.

The best way to differentiate them is to picture them as two Venn diagrams with an overlapped area in the middle. Products that are cruelty-free may not be vegan, while vegan products may not be cruelty-free. Some products are both cruelty-free and vegan.

So what do both of these terms mean?

Cruelty-free in beauty is generally taken to mean the product along with its individual ingredients have not been tested on animals. On the other hand, vegan products don’t contain any animal or animal-derived ingredients such as honey, beeswax, etc.

In other words, “cruelty-free” is concerned with the process of making the product, while “vegan” is concerned with its ingredients.

Products that are both cruelty-free and vegan

Velour Lashes #LOTD Collection

Velour Lotd Collection

Velour Lashes is a cruelty-free makeup company, meaning they do not test their lashes on animals. However, since some of their lashes are made from mink fur, these are considered non-vegan.

If you are looking for cruelty-free and vegan lashes, however, the new Velour Lashes #LOTD Collection meets the cut. Made from 100% synthetic faux fibres, these lightweight synthetic lashes are lightweight, comfortable and natural-looking, perfect for those who are new to wearing false lashes.

The Velour Lashes #LOTD Collection retails for SGD23, and is made available at Sephora recently.

KVD Vegan Beauty Everlasting Blush

Kvd Vegan Beauty Everlasting Blush

Since 2019, along with the brand name change, KVD Vegan Beauty has reformulated their previously non-vegan products and are now officially 100% vegan and cruelty-free. If you haven’t checked out their latest launches in Singapore, definitely try out the KVD Vegan Beauty Everlasting Blush in six flattering shades.

Just like their other products, the Everlasting Blushes are highly pigmented and long-lasting so you only need to lightly dip your brush into the pan to get sufficient colour pay-off.

KVD Vegan Beauty Everlasting Blush retails for SGD38, available at Sephora.

Alpha-H Hyaluronic 8

Alpha H Hyaluronic 8 25ml With Box

With many skincare ingredients derived from animals such as snail mucin, honey, collagen, find a product that not only works for you but is also vegan and cruelty-free can be quite a challenge.

If that sounds like you, you will want to check out the Alpha-H Hyaluronic 8 that is both vegan and cruelty-free while offering incredible skincare benefits.

It is formulated with eight powerful hydrating ingredients, including the new technology Primalhyal Ultrafilter that delivers hyaluronic acid deep in to the lower layers of the skin to instantly hydrate and plump up your skin.

It also contains Hydranov, a substance derived from red algae that can stimulate the skin’s own epidermal hyaluronic acid synthesis by some 211% to further boost the hydrating effect.

Alpha-H Hyaluronic 8 retails for SGD44, available on Sephora.

Clean beauty

Natural ingredients

Cosmetic Claims 2

The boom of clean beauty and natural ingredients stems from the fear that chemicals are inherently harmful and ingredients found in nature are safer for our health. As a result, products made from “natural ingredients” often go hand in hand with products that are “free from chemicals”.

However, the “natural” and “chemical” labels are arbitrary at best, and misleading at worst. There are no consensus as to what they mean. Moreover, everything in nature is made up of chemical compounds. “Natural” substances sometimes have to go through certain chemical processing to maintain or optimise their efficacy as a skincare or makeup ingredient. What this means is there’s no avoiding chemicals in our beauty routine, and there’s no reason to.


Compared to many terms in this article, “preservatives-free” are rather straightforward. As preservatives have to be labelled on the ingredient list, consumers can check for themselves whether the product is, indeed, free of preservatives.

However, the question is do we actually want our cosmetics to contain no preservatives? Preservatives are typically added to products to extend their shelf life and prevent bacterial growth, especially when almost all cosmetic products contain water, which is a breeding ground for waterborne bacteria. That’s why DIY products such as homemade masks have to be refrigerated and used up within a short amount of time.

While there are controversies as to whether some synthetic preservatives such as paraben are harmful to our body, you shouldn’t avoid all preservatives. “Natural” products without effective preservatives are just as likely to damage your skin from bacteria infections.

Green or sustainable beauty

The idea of “green beauty” is sometimes discussed as a separate category, but most of the time, it’s grouped under “clean beauty”. Green or sustainable beauty refers to products whose production or consumption benefits the environment in some way.

These include production or formula development done in labs that commit to sustainable practices, product formulas that don’t harm the environment or companies who donate a percentage of their profits towards sustainability causes.

Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream

Biossance Squalene Marine Algae Eye Cream

Biossance is committed to sustainability by developing all their formulas in a My Green Lab Platinum Certified facility. My Green Lab certification is considered global standard for laboratory sustainability best practices. Operations in My Green Lab Certified laboratories are conducted in such a way as to minimise their environmental impact.

An exciting upcoming launch from Biossance you can look forward to is the Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream. Made from marine algae and paracress extract with peptide complex, this eye cream strengthen the skin structure to lift and firm your eye area. The plant-based squalane delivers deep hydration to plump up the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.

And since we’re been talking about labels, this eye cream is vegan, cruelty-free and made without paraben or synthetic fragrances.

Biossance Marine Algae Eye Cream retails for SGD81, and is made available at Sephora recently.