INCI List: How to Read the Ingredient List of Your Cosmetics

decryptage liste inci

What is an INCI list?

The INCI list is mandatory on a cosmetic product, on the primary and/or secondary packaging. Like for a food product, this list allows you to know everything that is in a product.

Definition of the INCI list

INCI stands for "International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients." It is an international language for describing the composition of a cosmetic product. This language uses the Latin or English names of raw materials.

Order of ingredients

Raw materials are listed one after the other in descending order of their concentration (from most to least concentrated) in the formula. For raw materials used at less than 1% concentration, the manufacturer can list them in any order at the end of the INCI list.

What do we generally find in the list of cosmetic ingredients of a natural product?

All cosmetic products are different, but there are nevertheless categories of ingredients that you will often find in your ingredient list.

  • Water: it is the most used ingredient in cosmetics! You will often find it at the top of the list noted as "Aqua."
  • Plant extracts: plant extracts are used for their active properties (softening, antioxidant, moisturizing, etc.). They are easily recognizable and bear the mention "extract" at the end of their Latin name.
  • Oils or butters: of vegetable origin, oils are used for their textures and properties and are easily recognizable by the designation "oil."
  • Alcohols: alcohol is used especially in perfumed products or for its preservative properties. It is found under denominations such as "Alcohol denat." for denatured alcohol and "-yl alcohol" for fatty alcohol.
  • Preservatives: preservatives protect the cosmetic product from microbial contamination and aging. In organic cosmetics, only 5 preservatives are allowed, such as salicylic acid and sorbic acid.
  • Fragrances: fragrances or "parfums" are used to provide a pleasant odor to the product. In organic cosmetics, only essential oils or natural fragrances are allowed. They are mentioned by their full Latin name or grouped under the denomination "Fragrance" or "Parfum."
  • Natural and organic ingredients: in the ingredient list of a certified cosmetic product, you can easily identify raw materials of natural or organic origin, indicated by an asterisk with a reference at the bottom of the label.

With the tips mentioned above, let's identify the different categories in this list of ingredients.



Now that you know how to decipher the ingredient list of a natural cosmetic product, you can tackle all your beauty products with ease!



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Written by
Shanna  Shanna