Understanding cosmetic labels

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It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when reading the often long and unrecognisable list of ingredients on any given skincare product. We have identified and explained some of the more obscure information on cosmetic labels below.

All ingredients have to be listed by their official INCI name (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) which is a system of identification that is universally recognised within the industry but not necessarily helpful for consumers. The INCI names are always listed in order of volume, highest listed first. Although they may not be recognisable, there will also be the common name alongside the official INCI name, so that you can quickly identify ingredients, for example the oil Simmondsia Chinensis is listed alongside Jojoba for easy recognition.

If it’s important for you to identify whether a product uses synthetic fragrances rather than plant based fragrances, make sure to check if the word Parfum or Fragrance is listed. It isn’t necessary for manufacturers to declare specific fragrance ingredients, instead using Parfum to represent an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients. Synthetic fragrances have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory disorders and potentially the reproductive system. We only use pure essential oils which imbue our final blends with a multitude of benefits, not least aroma.

Many essential oils naturally contain potential allergens. As the manufacturer it is our responsibility to include these on the list of ingredients as a way of easy identification for allergy sufferers. Compounds such as Linalool, Geraniol and Limonene are examples of these allergens naturally present in certain essential oils; we don’t add extra fragrance to our blends either in synthetic or natural form. Many of these allergens sound unfriendly, but be reassured, when found in our ingredients list, they are only ever naturally occurring in plant based oils. For example, Geraniol is produced by the scent glands of honey bees to mark nectar bearing flowers and locate the entrances to their hives*.

Many of the components within skincare products have a purpose beyond benefiting the skin. They can be used to extend the shelf live of a product, such as parabens, or to create a desired texture, for example sulphates create a foaming action or emulsifiers, which are used to blend oil and water into a cream. These will be listed in the ingredients, but can be hard to identify, so it’s worth investigating anything on the label that you’re unsure of. Although there is no clinical proof, some of these have been associated with potentially harmful effects to the body.

We provide a glossary of all the ingredients we use so that you can learn more about what you’re putting on your skin. With this greater awareness you can make conscious choices that benefit the health of your body and environment.

*Danks, R G.: Willians, J. L.: Rinderer, T. E. (1990) “A bait station for survey and detection of honey bees”