If you’re looking for a clean, safe, natural body care products the first thing you probably do is flip over the bottle and read the label. If you’ve always gone by the rule of thumb that if an ingredient has too many letters—or if you can’t pronounce it—then the ingredient is likely a nasty chemical, it might be time to change your approach to label reading strategy.

Starting November 16, 2006, labels must now conform to the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI.) INCI was developed over a period of more than 30 years and is the basis of the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook.
The INCI system is based on Latin and is both multinational and multilingual. INCI is the mandatory classification in the European Union and the United States, and now in Canada as well.
And while it sounds like having a universal system of ingredient listings will simplify your life, try and remember your last Latin lesson. In the natural health industry, manufacturers have voluntarily listed ingredients even though it was never a legal requirement. Mainstream brands like Herbal Essence, Avon and Elizabeth Arden have never listed ingredients nor would they readily give them to you if you requested them.

For the first time any product “manufactured, sold or represented for use in cleansing, improving or altering the complexion, skin, Hair or teeth,” including deodorants and perfume must include ingredients according to the INCI format.
You’re going to see a lot of complex words on packaging for the first time—both in this store and elsewhere. As a result, you are likely to find some ingredients rather daunting and perhaps even question how “natural” a product is.
For example, a body scrub including salt will now be labeled as containing sodium chloride. That sounds unpleasant! Grain alcohol will now be listed as the rather unnatural sounding SD Alcohol 40-B. Should you even put that on your body?

What else should you know about INCI?
Ingredients must be listed in descending order of their concentration by weight . Ingredients at a concentration of 1% or less can be put in a random order on the label. Fragrances must be listed under the category “parfum” or each fragrance ingredient can be listed individually.
Flavour ingredients may either be listed individually, or they may be listed under the term “aroma.” It’s important to notice here that many questionable ingredients like phthalates can still be disguised under INCI legislation.

How to prepare for INCI?
You can prepare yourself by learning the INCI terms for some of the most common ingredients. Also you may be sensitive to a particular ingredient and you should become familiar with that ingredient’s INCI name.
Purchasing 11th Edition of The International Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook will cost $710 dollars for members of the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association and $1,140 for non-members.

Here are some examples:

  1. Lavender = Lavandula Angustifolia
  2. Rosemary = Oleoresin Rosmarinus Officinalis
  3. Tea Tree = Melaleuca Alternifolia
  4. Vitamin E = Tocopherol
  5. Cocoa Butter = Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter
  6. Shea Butter = Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit
  7. clay = Aluminum Silicate
  8. Oat Flour = Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour
  9. Sweet Almond Oil = Prunus amygdalus dulcis
  10. Oil = Vitis vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil
  11. Olive Oil = Olea europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil

Before INCI
Aloe vera gel, quarternary ammonium compounds (coconut oil), quarnernuium 57 (grapefruit seeds), cellulose gum (inner bark resin), coconut oil hydroxyl, hydrolyzed wheat , Proteins ,glycerine (byproduct of vegetable soap), organic hemp oil, avocado oil, lemon extract, wheat germ oil, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (sugar beets).

The INCI Version
Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Stearalkonium Chloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Polyquaternium 47, Cellulose Gum, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Glycerin, Canabis Sativa (Hemp) Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Citris Limonum (Lemon) Peel Extract, Wheat Germ Oil, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate.

Kathleen Dills, Director of Marketing, Purity Life Products.