Inci, an acronym for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, is an international standard, or rather a nomenclature recognised almost all over the world, for indicating on the label of a cosmetic product the different ingredients it contains. To be precise, since 1997, all cosmetic products from European Union countries, Russia, the United States of America, Brazil, Canada and South Africa are required to display the Inci. Therefore, the Inci is an important ‘ally’ of consumers, as it allows them to know the product in depth and therefore allows them to buy consciously, avoiding coming across polluting substances or perhaps substances they are allergic to and therefore wasting money.
- 1 Inci: how to read labels correctly
- 2 Inci: which ingredients to steer clear of
- 3 Inci valuable information tool: we give you a couple of tips on how best to use it
Inci: how to read labels correctly
One of the main purposes behind the adoption of Inci is to prevent consumers of beauty products from coming across ingredients that are allergic and therefore ‘toxic’ to their bodies. However, to make this transparency campaign effective, it is necessary to know how to read the Inci correctly.
Let us look at some simple rules to follow.
Rule 1 ‘How to read the inci’: the ingredients of a product must be written in descending order of concentration
First of all, the Inci nomenclature stipulates that the ingredients of a cosmetic product must be written in strict descending order of their concentration. Thus in first place will be the ingredient contained with the highest percentage and then gradually all the others. It should be noted that ingredients with a concentration of less than 1% may also be listed at the end of the list in no particular order (this is because the concentrations and differences between them are minimal). It should also be noted that the current law does not prohibit the use of certain ingredients in specific beauty products that could be harmful to the body, but only sets maximum concentration limits. This means that it is up to the consumer to know whether a particular ingredient could harm you with that concentration (the best solution is to avoid products that contain substances to which you are intolerant).
Rule 2 ‘How to read the Inci’: the Latin and English names of an ingredient indicate a substantial difference
The Inci nomenclature includes terms in Latin and especially in English, so it is necessary to be familiar with them. Contrary to what one might think, it is necessary to pay close attention to this aspect: in fact, if the substance is listed in Latin, then it is a substance without chemical modifications, whereas English names indicate ingredients that are the result of chemical synthesis.
Inci: the Bio Dictionary helps us read ingredients
Among other things, thanks to the Inci, it is also possible to find out early on whether a beauty product is environmentally friendly. Specifically, you can use the functional Bio-Dictionary site. Here you will find a blank space where you can enter the ingredient indicated on the label. Once you have entered the name and clicked ‘Search in the Biodictionary’, you will have the answer to your question (two green dots indicate a full promotion of the product). It should also be noted that while there is an obligation for cosmetic products to include the Inci on the label, the same does not apply to products classified as medical devices (medicines). A substantial difference is due to the fact that for medicines, it is the state that acts as a guarantor of safety (every medicine requires prior state approval and registration before it can be put on sale in pharmacies).
Inci: which ingredients to steer clear of
In body care products, an environmentally friendly formulation with a higher concentration of natural extracts is to be expected.
Inci: ingredients with an asterisk indicate a higher concentration of natural extracts
How to recognise them on the label? They are indicated by an asterisk. Alternatively, you can always carry out a more in-depth check using the Biodictionary tool mentioned above.
Inci: which ingredients to avoid
Let us see which ingredients to avoid, starting with surfactants derived from petroleum refining. These are recognisable by the name ‘sulfate‘ such as ‘Sodium laureth sulfate‘ and ‘Sodium lauryl sulfate‘.
Surfactants of natural or vegetable origin such as Coco glucoside and Sodium lauryol glutamate
should be preferred to these.
Inci: which ingredients to avoid in products for children
Other ingredients to be avoided and which are unfortunately often included in the compositions of products intended for children are those also derived from petroleum such as Paraffinum Liquidum, PEG and PPF, not forgetting Mineral Oil. EDTA, MEA, TEA, MIPA and all silicones such as Dimethicone and Poliquaternium-80 are certainly to be avoided. In fact, silicones as well as being highly polluting to the environment can create a kind of film on both skin and hair giving the feeling of well-being but in reality this does not allow them to be nourished.
Inci valuable information tool: we give you a couple of tips on how best to use it
The Inci gives consumers the opportunity to learn important information about a cosmetic product.
But how to choose the right one? First of all, it is necessary to have some familiarity with the Inci nomenclature or at least to download one of the many apps designed specifically for this purpose onto your smartphone.
Inci: our tips
Furthermore, some simple rules, or rather tips, must be observed. In order to be sure of buying an organic and natural product, one must ensure the presence of natural ingredients by reading the Inci.
What if you have skin that has had an allergic tendency in the past? You
should avoid products with the nomenclature Parfum and Fragrance, for example, as they are known allergens.
If you also want to choose a product on the basis of colour, for example for your hair, you can do so by consulting the appropriate Inci
code, which is identified by the abbreviation CI (colour index) followed by 5 digits referring to the shade. Last but most important rule is to always opt for green products because the skin protects us from external aggressions, so its health is very important. In fact, by using 100% natural products we give the skin healthy active ingredients and, what’s more, we also do something very useful for the protection of the environment.
In short, the motto is: long live the beauty of natural skin!