Discover how to read the INCI on the cosmetic label

If you like to take care of your beauty with natural and organic cosmetics, the INCI is your best ally in choosing the most suitable products for your needs. Let's discover together how to read it!


The label on a cosmetic is like an identity card showing the information needed to know its composition and use. 

The list of ingredients (technically known as INCI, International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredients) was introduced in Europe in 1997 by the European Commission with the aim of protecting consumers who, knowing the product formulation, can avoid substances to which they might be allergic or ingredients to which they are opposed for ethical reasons (such as, for example, substances of animal origin).

The legislation, which is the same for all EU countries, establishes the characteristics that the INCI must have in order to be "well written":

- 'Ingredients': the full list of ingredients in the formula must be preceded by the word 'Ingredients'

- Order of ingredients: the INCI must indicate all ingredients present in the formula with a concentration of 1% or more in descending order of quantity. The first ingredient in the list will be the substance most commonly present in the formula

- Name of ingredients: The language used varies according to the type of substance being named

  • For commonly used ingredients, the Latin noun is used, as given in the European Pharmacopoeia
  • For synthetic chemicals and plant derivatives that have undergone a chemical transformation, the technical English name is used
  • For plant derivatives that have not undergone any treatment other than extraction, the Latin botanical name of the plant of origin is used
  • Synthetic dyes are numbered according to the Colour Index (e.g. CI 45430) and are normally indicated at the end of the list
  • Any asterisks indicate one or more characteristics of the substance to which they refer, such as its origin from organic farming or its origin (whether natural or animal)

In the formula of  Sendo's All Care Nourishing Body Fluid we see that:
- Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil (the Sweet Almond oil) is the second ingredient in the formula and is from organic farming. The same applies to the Desert Date Oil (Balanites Roxburghii Seed Oil)

- Shea Butter is referred to in the formula by its Latin name Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter. From this we understand that it is a plant derivative which has not undergone any chemical treatment. The same applies to Rosehip (Rosa Canina Callus Lysate) and Coconut/Palm Kernel Alkanes

All Sendo cosmetics are formulated in full respect of the environment, nature and people and do not contain any ingredients that may harm the environment or be irritating to the skin. We are talking about substances such as parabens, silicones, SLS & SLES, and other substances that are not permitted in natural cosmetics.

To ensure that certain ingredients are not present in the cosmetics you use to care for your beauty, you need to recognise the exact wording in the INCI:

- Parabens: these are preservatives and can be recognised by their ending in 'paraben', for example, ethylparaben or methylparaben


- SLS & SLES: these are surfactants of animal origin, e.g. Sodium-Laureth-Sulfate (SLES)

- PEG: Polyethylene Glycol and the entire PEG and PPG family have an emulsifying function and are derived from petroleum. They can be recognised by the abbreviation PEG followed by a numerical code (e.g. PEG-100)

- Mineral oils: these are emollients, e.g. Paraffinum Liquidum, Mineral Oil, Vaseline, Microcrystalline Wax, Petrolatum

- Silicones: have a film-forming effect, they can be recognised by the fact that their name ends in -one (dimethicone), -siloxane (cyclopentasiloxane), -onol (dimethiconol), -lyol (Dimethicone Copolyol)

- Synthetic dyes: these have a colouring action and are indicated in the INCI by the abbreviation CI followed by a numerical identification code (e.g. CI 17200)

Other information on the label to help you choose the most suitable cosmetic for your needs are as follows:

- Product certifications (if any): Cosmos Natural, ICEA and AIAB are the most widely used and well-known

- PAO and product expiry date

- Product quantity

- How to use and any warnings
- Manufacturing batch number
- Company responsible for the production of the cosmetic

...but we'll get to that in the future... we're sure you're now an expert at reading the INCI, and choosing your natural cosmetics will be easier than ever.


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