The ingredients of finished cosmetic products are listed on their labels according to an international system, the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients, known as INCI, which is used throughout the EU member states and other countries as well, for instance the US, Russia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, and others.
This nomenclature contains some terms in Latin (botanical names and those of ingredients included in the pharmacopoeia), but the majority of the names are in English and, in the case of dyes, the numbers assigned to them in the Colour Index (e.g. CI 45430) are used.
The International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients was adopted by the European Commission on 1 January 1997, with the aim of providing an additional safeguard for consumers. The purpose of the INCI system is, indeed, prevalently that of allowing people who suffer from allergies, anywhere in Europe or, often, wherever in the world they happened to be, to easily determine whether or not a product contains any substances to which they are allergic before they use it.
All cosmetic products carry an ingredients list. By law, a product’s label must contain the list of its ingredients, preceded by the word “ingredienti” (t.n. in Italy) or “ingredients”, arranged by order of weight at the moment of each ingredient’s incorporation, from greatest to least. This rule applies to substances that account for more than 1% of the product, while those that account for less than 1% can be listed in any order.
The problem arises when we must begin codifying ingredients.
Below is a list of a few ingredients, their INCI names, descriptions and cosmetic properties.
|Aqua (water)||Water||The basic ingredient of most formulations|
|Glycerin||Glycerin||moisturises the skin’s surface, humectant|
|Butyrospermum parkii(Shea)butter||Shea butter||improves elasticity, nourishing and emollient, a solid oil|
|Argania Spinosa (kernel) oil||Argan oil||Skin conditioner, nourishing, a light oil|
|Mel (honey)||Honey||Moisturising, humectant|
|Prunus dulcis (sweet almond) oil||Sweet almond oil||Emollient, improves elasticity, a very skin-compatible oil|
|Aloe Arborescens leaf extract||Extract from the leaves of Aloe Arborescens||Soothing, protective, moisturising|
|Ocimum Basilicum (basil) leaf extract||Extract from the leaves of basil||Tonifying, astringent, cleansing, refreshing|
|Olive glycerides oil||Olive oil glycerides||Emollient, improves elasticity|
|Cetearyl glucoside||Natural emulsifier||Makes it possible to blend the aqueous phase and the oleaginous phase|
|Cetearyl alcohol||Cetearyl alcohol||Consistency factor, rheology modifier, co-emulsifier|
|Glyceryl stearate||Glyceryl stearate||Consistency factor, rheology modifier|
|Phenoxyethanol||Phenoxyethanol||Broad spectrum preservative|
|Sodium dehydroacetate||Dehydroacetic acid sodium salt||Preservative, especially antifungal|
|Benzoic acid||Benzoic acid||Broad spectrum preservative|
|Sodium PCA||Sodium salt of pyroglutamic acid||Humectant and antistatic agent|
|Xanthan gum||Xanthan gum||Gelling agent, vegetable polysaccharide|
|Disodium cocoamphodiacetate||Amphoteric surfactant||Derived from coconut and palm|
|Sodium lauryl sarcosinate||Anionic surfactant||Derived from coconut and sarcosine (amino acid)|
|Tocopherol||Tocopherol Vitamin E||plant-derived antioxidant|
|Tocopheryl acetate||Tocopherol acetate Pro-vitamin E||plant-derived antioxidant|
|Citric acid||Citric acid||Corrects the pH-balance, plant-derived|
|Linalool,limonene, geraniol, citral||Occur naturally in fragrances and essential oils.|
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