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Article: The decryption keys of an INCI list

soins et cosmétiques L Odaites

The decryption keys of an INCI list

More and more of you are questioning yourself and wanting to decipher the ingredients in your cosmetic and beauty care products as well as those in your food products. This is excellent news, because we work every day to enlighten you on the importance of these ingredients.  More particularly,  we are extremely committed to bringing attention to the the quality of the active substances and ingredients contained in ODAÏTÈS products.  We are well aware that packaging limits how much information can be provided, and aside from our ”marketing" efforts, reading the ingredient list on the packaging remains the only way you can find information about our ingredients and formulations . So, you must be able to decipher it!  The exercise is not easy, because while it is essential to indicate the composition of our formulas, manufacturers still need to protect the privacy of their formula. However, we can enlighten you on the rules to established  this list called INCI and other mentions. Thus, you will already be much better able to make your choice knowingly.

A list of INCI ingredients, what is it?  International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI)

The INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) is the international nomenclature of cosmetic ingredients with the advantage of "talking" all packaging a single "language" in almost every country.

It has been obligatory in Europe since 1998. Thus, a cosmetic product can only be placed on the market if the container and / or the packaging bear in indelible, easily visible and legible characters the list of all the ingredients, under their name. INCI name, and preceded by the word "ingredients". In case of practical impossibility (format too small), the symbol of the hand on the book refers to either a notice, a label, or any other indicative medium.

The Fraud Control Agency (the DGCCRF) and the National Agency for Drug Safety (ANSM) can at any time carry out a control of this INCI list.

The most concentrated ingredients first

First of all, know that the INCI lists the ingredients of a product in their decreasing order of concentration up to a concentration of 1%. Below, the ingredients are listed in a totally random order to protect the product's formula from competition.

Thus the most important ingredients in concentration are listed first. But if an ingredient is last, you can not necessarily conclude that its concentration is not effective especially if the list of components is not long.

Some exceptions to consider

Some ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or essential oils can not be at the top of the list. Indeed, on the one hand their action is effective from a very low dosage in the product and on the other hand they can induce inappropriate textures or even become toxic beyond a certain relatively low threshold (often in below 1%).

Moreover, certain molecules composing essential oils or perfumes (for example Farnesol, Citral, ...) may present allergic risks in certain subjects. Thus, a list of 26 allergens has been drawn up by the European cosmetic regulation which requires them to be mentioned for information purposes at the end of the INCI list only when their concentration in the finished product is greater than 0.001% for rinsed products and 0.01% for non-rinsed products. So if you are looking for allergens, go directly to the end of the INCI list. Know that you can quite allergies to a natural or organic product even if allergies are more common in conventional products.

False friends even in the INCIL list INCI nomenclature is written in two languages. Plant extracts are indicated under the Latin name of their plant. For example, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil refers to jojoba seed oil. The other ingredients are indicated in the English version of their chemical designation. Sodium hyaluronate, a hyaluronic acid compound, is written in English and in INCI Sodium Hyaluronate and will be listed as such on the list. Attention to misinterpretations, the mention "Castor Oil" does not mean beaver oil but castor oil. "Stearyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol that has nothing to do with alcohol, to learn more about our article on alcohol in cosmetics.

Finally, it is not the raw materials used in the formulation of a product that are listed but rather the ingredients that make up these raw materials. The INCI list does not provide information on the quality of the ingredients, their origin or their method of manufacture. A virgin vegetable oil and a refined vegetable oil are named in the same way.

And silicones in all that ...

The presence of silicones is easy to identify because their chemical name usually ends in "-xane", "-ane", "-thicone" or "-thiconol" (For example: dimethicone, cyclotertrasiloxane ...). This petrochemical derivative is used for its silky feel that it provides but has the disadvantage, among other things, to smother the skin or hair. Cosmetic dyes, excluding hair dyes, must appear in CI form "Color Index" followed by the number (example CI 77 891) and are listed in order regardless of the end of the enumeration of the other ingredients. You will be able to detect their presence.

The "Clean Beauty" mobile app that scans and decrypts INCI ingredients can help you detect the presence of allergens and unwanted ingredients.

What about other symbols on a pack

It is not necessary to indicate the expiry date after opening on sprays, formulas without risk of deterioration and those with an expiry date. The latter must be clearly served if it is less than 30 months by the mention to preferably use before end XX. If the duration of use can exceed 30 months, the number mentioned next to the open jar indicates the number of months of use after opening.

Each product has an essential manufacturing lot number in case of formula reminders and for traceability in general. The drawing of a hand on a book indicates that there are specific precautions for use indicated on a leaflet.

The pictograms on the packs are symbols of commitment (financing of a waste management system, organic label, etc ...). The sale of products tested on animals is banned by the EU, including for imported products, since 2015 but you will still find packs mentioning it because many still do not know it. Just as some packs mention the absence of unwanted substances such as parabens, silicones, etc ... and to date, there is still no harmonization at this level but the battle on mentions has not finished debating given the increasing demand for transparency on the content of our cosmetics.


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