How to understand a cosmetic label
I am sure you have been in a situation of wanting to understand a cosmetic label and to know what a product is made of and looking at the list of ingredients in a product,and stopping after the second or third ingredient because you don’t understand what is what and you can’t even pronounced the word with the result leaving that product on the shelf or trust the brand and buying the product.
Natural vs no natural
So how do you know a product is natural or not ? does it contain really natural ingredients and if they do how you identify them , or whatsmore important how you recognize the toxic ones …the ones you need to avoid as much as you can.
To begin with a product in stores or markets or whatever you buy them from must have a full ingredient list on the label and what I say full , it should be ALL of them because it is quite often especially in online shops to show only the “key ingredients” which are obviously the natural one but they don’t tell you what else in the product. The key ingredients is what it sells, and how you know how much of that natural is IN the product.
What is INCI?
INCI stands for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, basically the universal vocabulary used on a cosmetic label that it is the botanical name (in Latin language) of every ingredient or if it is not a plant the technical name of that ingredient. The INCI can be called “list of ingredients” without being too technical.
Natural body lotion INCI
Here below I am showing a correct and full cosmetic label of natural product . It is a body lotion, nice ingredients by the way but I am not saying the brand, that’s no the point I just want to explain how to understand a cosmetic label and tell you some handy tips to identify which are the natural ingredients, so the more you see these ones the more natural is the product , right ?
International well-known natural skincare brand
Aqua (Purified Spring Water), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil, Octyl Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Glycerol Stearate, Mel (Honey), Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Fruit) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado Fruit) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Essential O, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Parfum, Citral*, Geraniol*, Citronellol*, Limonene*, Linalool*, *Components of Natural Essential Oils.
You may already know that ingredient label is in descending order, which means it starts with biggest amount of a ingredient following by smallest amounts i.e. preservatives and essential oils normally are right at the end .
You can read the name in Latin of every natural ingredient and in English the word in brackets in another countries the word in bracket will be in the local language . For example in Spain will be in Spanish.
The ingredients not followed by brackets are normally synthetic or semi-synthetic , I mean they are not raw plant based ingredients but they can be natural derivatives as well i.e. glycerin, glycerol stearate , phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin (common preservative in cosmetics)
Parfum : This is a little bit confusing and controversial. EU cosmetic regulations allows to put Parfum in the label for non-disclosure purposes. It means that parfum normally it is a secret cocktail/blend that can be natural essential oils or synthetic fragrances that the brand don’t want to share so other brands can not copy/replicate. This will has to do with the brand’s ethic and honesty. Some brands actually put Parfum (natural essential oils) but others don’t explain the origin of this Parfum
Citral*, Geraniol*, Citronellol*, Limonene*, Linalool*, *Components of Natural Essential Oils. These are allergens naturally occurring in essential oil. This is a warning that some people might react to these compounds even though they are 100% natural.
Non-natural body lotion INCI
(despite what it says on the front label of the product to attract your attention always read the INCI , ingredients list on the back of the product)
Here it is a cosmetic label of a product which has ANY natural ingredient= No active ingredient in it. Everything is synthetic and will not provide any goodness to your skin in terms of vitamins, minerals, omegas , basically NO food for the skin. It will just give an “aesthetic effect” of temporary smoothness or radiance , it might feel and smell nice but it does not have any action on the skin. You will more likely end not buying that product any more because it doesn’t really work but you will buy another one quite similar as you don’t understand the label and so on. Spending (wasting) money in products that does not work until you get educated yourself about ingredients and what a cosmetic product should contain in order to be effective for you.
Ingredients (very popular brand in supermarkets and drugstores)
Water, glycerin, C13-16 isoparaffin, isopropyl palmitate, glyceryl glucoside, cetearyl alcohol, dimethicone, glyceryl stearate SE, panthenol, petrolatum, glyceryl stearate, myristyl alcohol, hydrogenated coco-glycerides, fragrance, carbomer, sodium hydroxide, sodium cetearyl sulfate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben.
Did you spot the difference?
Very easy!!! the non-natural product ingredient list (INCI ) does not have brackets hence NO botanical names in Latin = NO natural ingredients. Just few natural derivatives : glycerin, panthenol (vitamin B5), cetearyl alcohol (thickener) and glyceryl stearate (emulsifyer)
And a lot of petroleum ingredients and parabens and silicones = plastic ingredients
Good tips!! isn’t it ?
Hope this post helps you to make your shopping more conscious or you can always make your own product and CHOOSE the ingredients you want to use.
Thanks for reading
La Mayca x
If you need consultancy services on how to sell your skincare products legally in Ireland and Europe please contact me mayfertosatgmail.com . I will provide full information from a to z saving you time, money and frustration.
Note: My next cosmetic making 1 day course is Saturday 24th February open to everyone: personal use and professionals/entrepreneurs. Please read full info here