Saturday, June 18, 2011

How to Read a Label Part 2

Why do formulators use all those long, chemical sounding names?

Health Canada, the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Union require all labelling for soap and cosmetics to be in INCI names.

What the heck is INCI you ask. INCI is International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. INCI names are uniform scientific names. This terminology ensures that ingredients are listed consistently using the same name from product to product.

Ideally, you should be able to pick up a jar of cream in any country and read the ingredients on the label. Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil will be tea tree oil in any language.

Because of the lack of public knowledge of the INCI system many formulators will use the common term placed in brackets in their ingredient listings. We also do this. Our spearmint lip balm contains: hazelnut oil, avocado oil, shea butter, beeswax, Vitamin E and spearmint essential oil.  Below is how these ingredients look on our label.

Don’t be fooled into believing that “If you can’t pronounce it, it can’t be good for you”. I have a difficult time saying Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, but I know that jojoba oil is safe and is wonderful for skin and hair.


  1. keep up the good work! this is fab info that needs to be out there ☺

  2. I did not know this! Thanks for the clarification. I have recoiled in horror from those scary chemical sounding names on shampoo bottles, etc. Good to know that many are simple, everyday, natural ingredients. They say a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and now I have a better idea that that's what I'm sniffing!

  3. Good to know! Thanks for sharing with us.