Retinol revealed as the most confusing skincare ingredient for consumers

Published 27th Jul 2023 by PB Admin

Retinol is the most searched-for ingredient among consumers, with 29,000 monthly searches, according to a new study.

The skincare industry is full of scientific terms, so it is unsurprising to find that many consumers are searching for what they all mean.

New research from Ripe Hair and Beauty Insurance has uncovered the top 10 skincare ingredients that people are confused about by analysing the global Google searches of 25 different popular skincare ingredients and buzzwords.

The results are based on the volume of searches for “what does [ingredient] do”.

Retinol was the top searched ingredient, with 29,000 monthly searches, while niacinamide was in second place with 17,000 monthly searches.

Closely behind niacinamide was hyaluronic acid, which had 16,000 monthly searches, and other ingredients that made the list included squalane, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid.



Monthly global  

search volume  


What does retinol do 



What does niacinamide do 



What does hyaluronic acid do 



What does salicylic acid do 



What does glycolic acid do 



What does azelaic acid do 



What does castor oil do 



What do peptides do 



What does squalane do 



What do AHAs do 


This confusion amongst consumers shows the important role that beauty professionals play in educating their clients about how to get the most out of their skincare.

Ripe Hair and Beauty Insurance worked with Ridah Syed, a senior medical aesthetician at Skinfluencer London, who said: “Most patients will get confused over key ingredients as there are so many products out in the market and so many different schools of thoughts as to what ingredients are vital for healthy, glowing and youthful skin.

“Sometimes people will hear the benefits of a product and be obsessed with using it even if it’s not suitable for their skin type. Acids are something people often get confused about.”

These results are reflective of a recent study by BeautyMatter that found 72% of people need clarification on some scientific terms in the beauty industry.

A further 69% said they have bought a health or beauty product without understanding the label, many of whom were influenced by TikTok.

“I love watching TikTok but as far as skincare is concerned, just because someone decides to do something in their bedroom and record it, it doesn't mean we should be doing it at home. It is far better to consult with a skincare expert,” commented Syed.

For more on skincare ingredients, find out how to use ferulic acid in skincare – and don’t miss the lowdown on lactic acid.

Which ingredients do your clients ask about? Let us know in the comments…


PB Admin

PB Admin

Published 27th Jul 2023

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