INCI products: What is it? How do you read? What can you tell us about the product?

INCI products, this unknown...

Having ascertained that today it is important to know what the INCI of products is and how to read it, and above all to understand what it tells us about the product..

In your opinion, what is the true indicator of the validity of a cosmetic?

  • Is it enough to decipher the INCI to get an idea of ​​the ingredients contained?
  • Is it more important to observe how your skin reacts to using that cosmetic?

No, don't get me wrong. I am the first to support and encourage knowing how to read the INCI of a cosmetic product , but I am also the first to tell you that a product cannot be judged only on the basis of the INCI .


In order to make conscious purchases, you need to be able to recognize the substances that make up our products. cosmetics. It is a gesture of love towards us, towards our loved ones and towards the planet.

Why? What are the risks we run?

Some ingredients present in conventional cosmetics - from creams to detergents - that we use every day, can cause allergies or irritations, others could interfere with hormonal activity, others could even release carcinogenic substances under certain conditions.

Other ingredients, on the other hand, are not dangerous for our health, but for that of our planet, as they are not biodegradable and eco-sustainable.

Unfortunately, there are still and there will always be people who ignore the INCI on product labels (cosmetics or food). We trust the big industries, but it's a luxury we can no longer afford because if the use of an ingredient is permitted by law, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's also harmless to us and our planet.

The intent of this post is not to make the usual list of ingredients that should be avoided, the web is full of more or less detailed and more or less correct lists.

The intent of this post is to try to understand what the INCI tells us about a product and above all to encourage you to WANT to learn how to decipher the INCI of products (cosmetics and more) to take care of yourself and your family consciously.

As? Choosing a cosmetic because you are fully aware of what you spread on your skin and hair and not because you are at the mercy of some advertisement that promises us to take care of us and our imperfections.

INCI products: mandatory on the label?

We take the presence of INCI on the label for granted, but did you know that it has only become mandatory to include it on the label since 1997 ?

While in the past cosmetics were marketed with only the words "based on" on the label, followed by the name of some components, since 1997 to ensure total transparency for the consumer, the INCI must include the complete list of all the ingredients present inside the product.

So let's make good use of this transparency and learn to decipher the ingredients of the products we use every day.

INCI products: what is it?


Quoting Wikipedia : "The INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) is the international denomination used to indicate the various ingredients of the cosmetic product on the label. It is used in all EU member states, as well as in many other countries around the world, including for example USA, Russia, Brazil, Canada and South Africa."

The first few times you try to read an INCI it will seem difficult to understand something, but don't let yourself get discouraged! Once the main words become familiar (often the items are repeated because the most used raw materials are always the same), everything will seem relatively easier.

INCI products: how to read? What to pay attention to?

The order of ingredients is not random!

The names of the ingredients are reported according to a standard nomenclature, the same in all countries. In the INCI the ingredients of cosmetic products are indicated on the basis of the quantity of substance inserted in the cosmetic at the time of preparation:

  • starting from the substance present in the largest quantity in the product,
  • followed by all other ingredients listed in descending order .

Below 1%, the ingredients can be indicated in random order and no longer in descending order. Sometimes companies can also ask the ministry to keep a substance secret, the wording of which will be replaced by an incomprehensible numerical code.

For example, if the main ingredient is water, in the INCI it is reported at the beginning of the list with the name " aqua", while the functional substances are usually reported in the middle of the list and the dyes (reported with the acronym CI), the perfume and the preservatives are reported at the end.

The ideal would be to AVOID using creams that contain in the first places of the INCI:

  • Petrolatum: Paraffinum liquidum, Petrolatum, Mineral oil
  • silicones: Dimethicone, Amodimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane
  • polyethylene glycols (PEG)
  • formaldehyde releasers: Imidazolidinyl urea, Diazolidinyl urea, etc
  • EDTA

The language of ingredients!

The difficulty in deciphering the INCI also derives from the language in which the ingredients are reported:

  • The name of the chemical substances or which are the result of chemical synthesis , are reported in English or numerical codes (the dyes);
  • The name of the botanical substances are reported in Latin with the botanical name of the plant from which they were extracted.
Theory is great, but without practice you won't get far :) So let's see some examples.
In the Beautilicious Delights dry skin face cream we also find the following among the various ingredients:
  • Butyrospermum Parkii Butter* which is none other than shea butter from organic farming,
  • Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil* - argan oil from organic farming
  • Tocopheryl Acetate - the stabilized form of vitamin E
  • the Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract - the calendula extract
  • Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil* - jojoba oil
  • Sodium Hyaluronate - the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid

We bet that the next time you come across Butyrospermum Parkii Butter in an INCI (if you didn't already know it), you will know that it is shea butter and that Tocopheryl Acetate is the stabilized form of vitamin E? :)

And if you want to be able to understand if there are ingredients with an antioxidant action in your face cream, I invite you to read the dedicated blog post " Which Antioxidants to Counteract Premature Skin Aging? ". I'm sure it will come in handy for you.

In addition, always to familiarize yourself with the terminology of the various ingredients, try taking a look at the INCI of the face cream for combination skin . The "Key Ingredients" section in the product sheet not only presents the complete list of ingredients, but also tries to familiarize you with the various wordings and with the role that the various ingredients play in the cream.

how to read the cosmetics label

INCI products: what can you tell us?

As we have also seen above, the INCI gives us a preview of the product , it helps us get an idea of ​​what we are going to apply on our skin, but it will never be able to tell us if that product is valid and works for our skin or less.

Judging a cosmetic product by looking only at the INCI is misleading!

In short, the INCI tells us:
  • what raw materials were used,
  • whether they come from organic farming or not,
  • if there are petrolatum and silicones,
  • but it does not indicate the percentages of the ingredients.


Sure, we can guess, but in the end why do we care so much about knowing the INCI ? To be aware that we don't spread ingredients that are toxic for us and for our planet, but in an unconscious way, also and above all to "evaluate" the cosmetic itself...

Yet, to evaluate whether a cosmetic can be right for us , we must first of all try it on our skin and feel:

  • its texture,
  • the scent,
  • the spreadability,
  • how long does it take for our skin to absorb it or not..

and all this, I assure you, a simple INCI will never tell us.

It certainly helps us to exclude ingredients we don't like , ingredients to which we are allergic , but in the end the true indicator of the validity of a cosmetic product is how our skin reacts . Let's stop to "listen" and observe our skin and if it reacts well in the long run, appears toned and luminous, that INCI/product is good for us.

There are no universal rules, products that are good for everyone. The same green INCI cream that is so good for you may very well not be good for your friend and vice versa. We have different rhythms of life, different diets, different genes, we are unique on this planet and the needs of our skin are also unique.

So never get discouraged, always research what's right for your skin type simply by remembering to observe and act accordingly, without persisting in using certain products just because they have an "BIO / GREEN / GOOD" INCI and work wonders for your sister.

And what are your parameters for choosing a cosmetic? How important is the INCI of the products and word of mouth? And above all, how many times has a product praised by everyone NOT proved to be similar to your skin and your needs? Share with me and with those who read us, your experience. :)

© Beautiful Delights

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