How to Read a Cosmetic Ingredient List


Beauty product labels can be confusing – and sometimes impossible to read. Consumers are constantly bombarded by fancy, technical words, bold letterings, and in-your-face imagery. Sometimes, ingredients can be lost in the sea of terms contained in a beauty product’s packaging. What is the best way to predict the efficacy of listed ingredients? It is hard to tell if you are not familiar with the intricacies of product labels. However, education is paramount in understanding how it all works. Our skincare product manufacturers at Anthem United States of Beauty invite you to keep reading as we explain how to read a cosmetic ingredient list.

The Importance of Knowing How to Read a Cosmetic Ingredient List Properly

The beauty product market is saturated with thousands upon thousands of different brands, promising the ultimate secret to a better-looking you. Many companies cleverly utilize different wording strategies that may not fully inform what their skincare line of products contain. Furthermore, unsuspecting customers may be drawn by what their beauty product says on the packaging instead of what is written on the ingredients list.

It is essential to understand what your product is made of and to learn how to read the contents inside the box properly. Without following a proper structure of reading the contents on your beauty product, you risk wasting your money on something you don’t need or doesn’t work as you thought. Moreover, understanding how an ingredient list works can help you make an informed decision and avoid those products that may not be suitable for you.

Suppose that “Product X” caught your eye due to its attractive packaging. You see in big, bold letters, “The perfect product for your skin” at the front of the product. It would be safe to assume the “Product X” might be worth trying. However, what “Product X” may not advertise on the product packaging on the outset is an ingredient that is not suitable for all skin types. This is where correctly reading the ingredients list on your cosmetic package is essential.

Knowing how to read the ingredients list on your beauty product properly can help you avoid costly mistakes, make a better-informed decision, and give you peace of mind knowing you are investing in the right product for you.

Reading a Cosmetic Ingredient List the Right Way

In order to properly read the ingredients list on your skincare product, you need to understand how it works. A cosmetic label commonly includes the ingredients on their products following the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI). The INCI refers to the different systemic names internationally-recognized as cosmetic ingredients. A comprehensive list of INCI can be found in the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC).


Reading INCIs in a skincare product can seem daunting and overwhelming at first. However, they are easy to understand once you know how they are structured. For instance, you may have read the term Rosmarinus officinalis. This is a Latin term used to describe what is known as rosemary oil.

Many customers may be driven away from buying a skincare product because the list of ingredients may seem dangerous. However, many beneficial ingredients have complicated names. Common examples of safe-to-use ingredients in skincare cosmetics include Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Citric acid, and Potassium sorbate.

The order in which the ingredients are listed is also essential. All cosmetic products should list their ingredients in order of concentration. In short, all ingredients must be listed in descending order from the most to the least amount present on the formula.

At the end of the INCI list, you can find ingredients listed as allergens. It is essential to know what types of products may cause an adverse reaction on your skin. Often, manufacturers highlight allergens, marking them with an asterisk, or writing the ingredients in italics.

Official Symbols

Some skin care products can be riddled with a lot of symbols that are hard to understand. What is most critical in terms of symbols is knowing which are truthful and which are not. For example, many beauty products include official symbols from official regulatory entities such as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Other symbols may look like they belong to an official regulatory entity when, in reality, they are symbols used by the company to highlight something important they want you to know.

This doesn’t mean a skincare product company is trying to deceive you. It means the use of these symbols may confuse their consumers. It would help to understand and recognize official symbols and separate them from those that aren’t. It would be best to learn some of the essential symbols in beauty and skincare products such as expiry date symbols, recycling, plastic classifications, among others.

As you can see, there is a lot going on in a skincare product package than just a brand’s name. Reading a cosmetic ingredient list correctly is essential to get the most out of your investment. Moreover, it is crucial to understand that properly reading the ingredient list in your cosmetic can help you avoid products that may contain elements that can cause more harm than good. Taking good care of your skin is essential, and if you are ever in doubt whether a specific ingredient can cause you harm, make sure to consult with a dermatologist first.

Skincare and Beauty Product Manufacturer Offering their Services in NJ

At Anthem United States of Beauty, we understand how important it is to keep the highest standards when it comes to skincare product manufacturing. That is why our U.S.-based skincare manufacturing corporation utilizes the latest in skincare care technology so you can create your beauty product while saving money. Our unique approach allows us to provide you with a full service beginning with your product’s concept and ending in the consumer’s hands. Anthem’s work spans a diverse range of products to meet our customers’ demands from facial sheet masks and face scrubs, to facial wipes and more. To learn more about all of our services and how we can help you develop your product, call our offices today at (973) 779-1982.