05 May 2009

INCI names - what are they?

You might have noticed that on your personal care products that there is a bunch of Latin in the ingredient list. In short, that's INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients) naming which assures consumer safety because everyone is on the same page with respect to a particular ingredient and so the consumer can look up essential oils, preservatives and other components of a cosmetic product easily and compare them with others, even if they come from different provinces, regions or countries. It is required under the law to have the INCI name for ingredients on cosmetics and personal care items in Canada, the USA, Japan, the EU and many other countries.

For example, on the label of Rocky Mountain Soap's Foot Butter, the ingredients are:

Vegetable oil, Alberta beeswax, cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao), and carrot tissue oil (Daucus carota sativa root extract), with essential oils of grapefruit (Citrus grandis), fir needle (Abies sibirica), patchouli (Pogostemum cablin) & lemongrass (Cymbopogon schoenanthus)That is, the common name in vernacular use is listed first and in brackets the INCI name, based on scientific, Latin and English components. Whatever the language, the INCI name will be the same. This also relieves the confusion of which species is being used in a product. For example there are over 50 species of lemongrass. In the Rocky Mountain Soap Foot Butter, we can easily verify that the lemongrass used is one of the varieties that is found in N. Africa through to India and South Asia.

As a consumer, if you are confused about what an ingredient is, simply google (or use some other search engine) the INCI name and you will easily find information on that ingredient. Alternately you can consult the
International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook, which is available at research libraries - most manufacturers have a copy handy too - which lists all ingredients with their common name and INCI name. It is in its 12th edition as of 2008, and at over 5000 pages and listing 15,000 INCI names, cross-referencing over 60,000 common names, it isn't a light read.

1 comment:

Erin said...

Hi, Im a local cosmetic creater, and Im trying to find out how to translate my ingredients to INCI format, do you know how besides trying to track down the INCI Dictionary & handbook?

Thank you!