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Understanding the ingredients of our products

Tiziri Ait Ali

Posted on August 12 2020

ingredient list INCI International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients safe natural ingredients chemical free free from harmful chemicals read ingredient list

Have you ever tried to find out what is in your baby's diaper rash cream or the moisturizer you apply so liberally to your skin every day? Some would say that you would need a bachelor's degree in hieroglyphic writing (and also very good eyes!) to understand the ingredient list of the body products we buy.


Did you say INCI?

INCI is the abbreviation for "International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients". In other words, the international nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients. It was created in 1973 by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA), an American association of body products manufacturers, now known as the Personal Care Product Council.

This nomenclature protects consumers by giving them access to the composition of skin care products. This mandatory nomenclature is recent in Canada, having entered into force less than 15 years ago (November 16, 2006). In Europe, it is mandaory since 1998.


Each in his own order

On the label, the list of ingredients is established in descending order, up to a concentration equal to or less than 1%. This means that the components used in greater quantity are listed first.

Ingredients with a concentration equal to or less than 1% can be listed at the end in any order. Be careful when reading the labels; for example, a chemical ingredient used at a higher concentration (example 0.95%), may well be placed after a natural ingredient used at a lower concentration (example 0.003%).


Do I need to learn Latin?

Once this rule is understood, we feel a little more equipped to decipher our products; but how to explain that some ingredients are written in Latin and others in English?

Usually, chemical compounds are listed in English. Be careful, we did say "generally" because some common natural ingredients are also listed in English. For example, we will read honey and goat milk for a product made up of honey and goat milk.

On the other hand, the vegetable substances must be in Latin. They should be written by genus and species. For example, if a product contains orange peel extract, the INCI name would be Citrus aurantium dulcis.

However, even if the labeling regulations enlighten consumers, it is impossible to know in what quantity the ingredients are used, and if they contain pesticides and/or GMO ingredients, unless they are certified organic (and still, it is not "always" the case...).


What about Herbalera?

At Herbalera, we only use 100% natural ingredients, guaranteed free from GMO products and pesticides by our suppliers. We show transparency since our ingredients are listed in descending order, even those with a content of 1% or less. So you know exactly what our products contain by reading the list of ingredients.

For some of our ingredients, you will find one (*), two (**) or three (***) little stars, which all have a meaning:

* = Organic;
** = Organic & local;
*** = Organic & fair trade.



INCI* Search

Guide to Cosmetic Ingredient Labelling

How to read a cosmetic label

Et toi, tu lis la liste INCI de tes produits de beauté ?

EWG Skin Deep website


Photo credit: itakdalee on Adobe Stock

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