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Pay Attention to Your Makeup Label

Learn How to Understand It

Product packaging and cosmetic labels can be a bit of an enigma to decode, yet this information is strategically crafted to keep you informed. If you’re keen on understanding all the ingredients of your favorite products better, then getting familiar with national labeling norms as well as symbols should become routine! With that said, challenge yourself by picking up a few items and see if you can identify the following.

Wind Energy

The Wind Energy logo found on product packaging guarantees that the products have been produced at a facility powered solely by wind energy.

Period After Opening (PAO)

The PAO open jar symbol indicates the product’s optimal usage period once it has been opened. The following number followed by an M is the amount of months that you can use this item for until its peak performance starts to decline.If your beauty products have gone past their expiration date as marked with a PAO symbol, chances are you’ll start noticing changes in scent, texture and overall performance – all warning signs indicating that it’s time to discard these items from your routine.


If you spot a product or packaging with this symbol, it is recyclable. Most likely, the symbol will have an accompanying numeral between 1 and 7 – these numbers indicate different types of materials as outlined by the American Chemistry Council.

  • Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE or PE-LD)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE or PE-HD)
  • Polystyrene (PS)Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE or PET)
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or V)
  • Other (acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, etc)

Estimated Sign

The European Union Directive 76/211/EEC mandates the accuracy of product fill weight claims, and it is represented through an e-mark symbol on any item containing between 5 grams to 10 kilograms. This ensures consumers that they are purchasing a quality product in compliance with EU regulations.

Cruelty Free Logo

Organizations aligned with the Beauty Without Bunnies Program can flaunt this bunny logo to exemplify their cruelty-free products. There are other logos from programs such as Leaping Bunny and Choose Cruelty Free (CCF). For more info about our devotion to be kind, explore further.


For cosmetic products that are distributed through direct sales, online marketplaces or stores, the ingredients will be shown in descending order of concentration. Active drug elements like Salicylic Acid typically appear at the beginning of the list labeled as ‘Active Ingredients.’ Any components with a less than 1% presence may not show up in exact order but will still be listed towards the end.

If you have allergies or sensitive skin, proceed with caution when encountering words like “Fragrance” and “Flavor.” As the FDA does not require companies to disclose their trade secret components, it is advised that people concerned about unknown ingredients opt for fragrance-free products instead. Color additives are typically listed in a “May Contain” section at the end rather than in order of occurrence – this is because some brands offer color cosmetics in multiple shades, such as RÓEN Cheeky Cream Blush or 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented® Powder Foundation.

Although the base formula of most beauty products remains constant, color additives and ingredient naming often vary between brands. Because of this, the Personal Care Product Council created a grandiose solution: The International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system. This renowned directory includes more than 16,000 INCI names that can be used to ensure consistent labeling across countries such as Japan, EU member states and the United States. With its implementation we are able to guarantee uniformity in our cosmetics.

For certain companies, standard INCI names are typically written in parenthesis. To illustrate: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Butylene Glycol (BG), and Magnesium Aluminum Silicate (MAS) are just a few examples of such standardized INCI names.

  • Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract = Grape
  • Butyrospermum Parkii = Shea Butter
  • Punica Granatum Extract = Pomegranate
  • Oenothera Biennis Oil = Evening Primrose
  • Morus Alba Root/Bark Extract = Mulberry


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has implemented a variety of labeling requirements for over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen products containing specific active ingredients. These regulations require that the product label must include a statement indicating it helps prevent sunburn, followed by information regarding its use, warnings, directions to ensure effective implementation as well as consumer safety.

Considering the SPF level, different warnings and instructions can differ. For instance, sunscreens with a broad spectrum of 15 or higher must specify that they “help avoid sunburn”, as well as make further claims relating to reducing risk of skin cancer and premature aging caused by exposure to sunlight.

Are you aware that minerals such as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide found in mineral makeup can provide actual sun protection? To ensure your skin is adequately safeguarded, use mineral make-up together with sunscreen. Remember to put on the sunscreen after using moisturizer but before applying make-up.

Expiration Date

The FDA mandates expiration dates and a drug fact panel for over-the-counter products like sunscreen and acne treatments. Stability testing is then conducted to assess the product’s formula and packaging quality under different conditions, such as temperature, humidity, or light. The expiration date printed on the container signifies when it should no longer be utilized; this helps ensure users are receiving optimal performance from the product.

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