How to read the ingredient list of a cosmetic product?

O'Naturalis : Blog article How to read the ingredient list of a cosmetic product?

More and more of us want to know what ingredients go into our cosmetics. But once you’ve spotted the list on the packaging, between the Latin names, the -ate suffixes and the suspicious acronyms, it’s not always easy to understand what it’s all about.

How do we read the labels on our soaps, shampoos and other skincare products?
O’Naturalis has a few tips to help you find your way around.

First, a little history…

In Europe, since 1998, a Directive has required manufacturers to detail the ingredients of the cosmetic products they market. These ingredients, listed in the Cosmetic ingredient database must be presented according to a specific nomenclature, the INCI.

What is INCI?

The INCI, or International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients, is a large reference dictionary used worldwide to list the official names, in Latin or English, of the various substances likely to enter into the composition of a cosmetic product.

How to read the ingredient list of a cosmetic product?

In descending order

Under European regulations, the raw materials used in cosmetics must be listed in descending order of their presence in the product. So priority to the one with the highest concentration. More often than not, you’ll notice that it’s… water that comes first. The following few elements will make up the essence of your cosmetic product. So it’s easy to find out if the soap that promises shea butter really contains it… or not so much!

With a nuance…

Note that any substance whose presence is less than 1% of the total composition does not have to comply with this rule. However, it must appear after ingredients whose concentration exceeds 1%.

What about allergens?

The European Union has listed twenty-six ingredients that can cause allergies in consumers. These allergens must be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients if their concentration in the finished product exceeds a certain percentage. For rinsed products, including soaps, this percentage is 0.01%.

How does it work at O’Naturalis?

To offer its customers products that comply with European Union regulations, O’Naturalis has chosen to have all its product formulas and labeling validated by a Belgian company specializing in toxicology applied to cosmetics. That’s how we can guarantee that our soap is 100% transparent about its composition!

Reading the ingredient list: a concrete example

Take our famous O’Fredouille, a cold-saponified solid soap with jojoba and green clay.

Here’s how the label works, to be read in order according to the tips mentioned above:

  • Cocos Nucifera Oil*: this is the INCI name for coconut oil.
  • Olea Europaea Fruit Oil*: simply the INCI name for olive oil.
  • Aqua: well… water!
  • Brassica Campestris Seed Oil*: beware of suspense… it’s just rapeseed oil as renamed by the INCI.
  • Sodium hydroxide: sodium hydroxide can be scary, as it’s commonly known as “caustic soda”. But don’t panic: used as it is, it’s absolutely not harmful, but necessary for the transformation of vegetable oils and butters into soap.
  • Montmorillonite: what a lovely name… for green clay!
  • Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil*: er… It sounds complicated, but it’s simply jojoba oil.

*Ingredients from organic farming

So, do you look at your soaps differently now? 😉

Curious about our range of soaps? Visit our e-shop now!

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