Ingredients with the same INCI name aren't necessarily the same

One of the things that many new formulators don't realize is just because a raw material has a certain INCI name, doesn't mean that another material with the same name is the same.

Here are a few reasons they might be different.  Can you think of any other reasons?


  • LOL @glasses

    Nice article. I think you could add a small paragraph about the certificate of analysis and the accepted ranges :)
  • in my experience the single 'natural' (i.e. refined rather than synthesised) material which has the widest range of variation is Petrolatum, and even then the specification only gives you part of the picture

    from a sensorial point of view, a very important physical parameter is the cone penetration, which is a quantitative measure of how hard the material is, and a given manufacturer's grades are usually differentiated on this basis

    however the other, equally important key quantity is the elastic modulus, which generally isn't measured, so in practise you have to evaluate different grades by physically comparing them side by side

    the most widely variable fully synthetic material is Acrylates Copolymer, which is a generic term which covers anything from opacifiers to rheology modifiers to waterproofing agents
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • Excellent post
  • Particle size is another specification example that can play a big part in how the product performs for solid products. A very fine particle size for an exfoliant may be great for a face scrub but the exact same ingredient in a coarse particle size could do serious damage if used on the face.

    I was looking through a supplier brochure this morning and there were about 8 different ingredients with the INCI of Magnesium Aluminium Silicate and these were all from the same company but had varying properties.
  • Great article, thanks @Perry ; :)
  • ozgirl agree. Other factors, density, particle shape, polymorphism 
  • Great article Perry. Polymer weight/length has something to do with it, right? 5cst and 500cst Dimethicone will both show up as "Dimethicone" despite performing way different. 
  •   As a beginner formulater I noticed this but what shocked me  the most is   ''polyquatenium 10 high amine low viscosity '' and ''polyquatenium 10 low amine high viscosity '' by searching for the for the chemical structure of polyquatenium 10 I found one structure 
  • @gld010 - yes, polymers can differ in molecular weight but still have the same name.

  • Several years ago I reverse engineered a sunscreen for a client. The product used Dow Sunspheres (INCI: STYRENE/ACRYLATES COPOLYMER). It was an easy job and the product went straight to a Contract manufacturer. The Contract Manufacturer couldn't get the Formulation correct. The client flew me to the plant and asked me to intervene and paid me for a full day. I walked into the lab and they had ordered a totally different DOW Product that had the same INCI but wasn't an SPF booster. It was Accudyn Shine, an emulsion with the same INCI. I found the error within the first 5 minutes and spent the rest of the day networking and checking out their cGMP/SOP's for the root client. Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications.
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