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Do you know how to read cosmetic labels? Do you know what INCI means?

Have you ever wondered what are those funny words on a skincare product label? ⁠

If your answer to all of these questions is that you have absolutely no idea or just a little, you are in for a treat....just read on.

Every skincare label needs to have a list of ALL the ingredients in that product. When I say ALL, I really mean ALL. Not a single tiny ingredient can escape from this rule, not even if it has a 0.01% content. This legal requirement is an EU requirement but currently - after Brexit - we still need to abide to it thankfully.

You will see 2 types of descriptions for an ingredient on a label. One is the general term, like an everyday word such as grapeseed oil or water but the other is the latin name of that ingredient. It is extremely important to have a common name of an ingredient so no matter where you are, what language you speak, you will know what`s inside the product you choose. And this is where the so called INCI comes into the picture. It means International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients and describes all the ingredient names in their latin name.⁠

Let`s take a very easy one as an example...water. You will see this on the label:

water (aqua) or aqua (water) - it really depends how the manufacturer feels suit the best for their customers.

There is an order as well which manufacturers need to adhere to. The first is the one with the most percentage content and goes towards the smaller percentages. Once reached 1% ingredient however, there is no rule in what order they need to be listed.⁠

If the product has essential oil, another rule will kick in when the manufacturer needs to list any of the 26 known most allergenic substances when present in the finished formula at certain threshold.

Here is an example of one of my labels where I use essential oil. This one is for the Normal to Dry skin WITH essential oil.

Ingredients: Vitis vinifera (grapeseed) seed oil, Rosa canina (rosehip) fruit oil, Argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil, Helianthus annus (sunflower) seed oil, Limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, Tocopherol (natural vitamin E), Boswellia carterii (frankincense) oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, Pelargonium roseum (geranium bourbon) flower oil, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citral*, Geraniol* (*from essential oil)

I prefer stating the Latin name of the ingredients first - don`t ask my why.....I love the language probably because I studied at school...haha.

In brackets I add the common English name. Now, of course if you would be in a different country where the native language is not English this common word would be different.

After the last actual ingredient, I listed the possible allergens which are naturally derived from the essential oils however, as per the cosmetic regulation, I need to list them as for some people with sensitive skin this could be a real issue if they are indeed allergic to any of it.

Better to be safe than sorry!

On this note, I hope you enjoyed this little "techy" post, I most definitely enjoyed writing it.

Let me know if you`d like to see more of these.

Naturally Yours,


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