Is the Ingredient List on your skincare telling you the whole truth?

When you pick up a jar of moisturizer that advertises that it is all natural, you expect that you will recognize all the names in the ingredient list but all you see is chemical names. Before you throw the product back on the shelf and walk off in the huff you need to understand why the list you are reading is all chemicals. Unfortunately, all cosmetic must list their ingredient in their scientific name – INCI name in in the order of quantity. To make mud even more clear it is like when you go to a nursery and ask for a pot of “Basil” and the assistant points you towards the “Ocimum Basilicum”, the assistant is using the Botanical Name of the plant, not the Common name.

Many countries have adopted the Law that cosmetic ingredient lists must not use the trade or common names of the ingredient. The manufacturer must use the Scientific Name known as INCI, which stands for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. The INCI name is too uniform all ingredient names around the world to minimizes the language barriers and to ensure consistency in ingredient list from product to product. This sounds great in theory and to an academic or scientist but is it useful for the consumer????

To a consumer that is not aware that an INCI name is the scientific name can be confusing and can often hinder the consumer understanding of what is in the product. Many natural ingredients in their INCI name sound chemical and not safe to use. The INCI ingredient list also hinder the consumer’s ability to ascertain the quality of the ingredients used within the product. As a cosmetic chemist, I can buy two ingredients that have the exact same INCI name but the quality and cost of these two ingredients will be worlds apart. As we are all aware cold press virgin oil is far superior to just olive oil.

Below is the simple ingredient list of a cup of white coffee with one sugar to show how the INCI name system does not truly distinguish the true ingredient of a product, the quality or the cost to produce the coffee or its superior taste nor meeting its customer’s specific taste and wants. Common Name Ingredient List is  – Water, Coffee, Milk, Sugar.

INCI Ingredient List –

Aqua, Caffeine, Lac, Saccharide Hydrolysate.

The Real Ingredient of the cup of Coffee – Showing the source and quality.

Spring Water – sourced from ancient French springs, some of the purest, most unique water in the world that is naturally high in essential minerals that are needed for healthy skin.

Dark Roasted Robusta beans – the strongest coffee in the world has over 200% more caffeine than regular coffee.

Certified Organic Un-homogenised Milk – Barambah is an Australian Certified Organic Dairy Farm that uses no chemicals in their farming system. Every input into the farms is organic, from organic grain and pastures to natural remedies for the cows. This ensures the milk is of the highest quality and taste.

Raw Cane Sugar – This raw form of sugar that is less processed than white table sugar. It still retains some of the molasses and moisture from the plant and technically you’re consuming less sugar and calories per serving making it healthier choose of sugar.

This simple example above clearly shows why the INCI Ingredient list not telling you the full story of what is in your product. This explains why when you buy your hair care products from your Hairdressing Salon and it cost 5 times more than what you would pay for shampoo at the supermarket. It may have the same INCI list but your Hair Salon products have used far more superior and better ingredients for your hair.

To help consumers many natural/organic skincare manufactures will place the common name of the ingredient in brackets after the INCI name or have two separate ingredient listing on their brochures, websites and other product information material. Zen De Jour products will always compile with the law and list the ingredients in the INCI format but also will have a Real Ingredient list to show the their true Identity, their source and quality. For example, if we use Coconut Oil it will be cold press virgin coconut oil from a sustainable source.

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debra spence
Debra Spence is a Qualified Medical Aesthetician, Cosmetic Scientist, Lecture and Author. Owned of an Australian National Award Winning Medi Spa. Now is concerntrating on Education of Skin and Skincare plus provideing advance treatments to her private patients. Plus developing Zen Dejour a Result Based Cosmeceutical Skincare Range and Dermal Solution Private Lable Professional Skincare.

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