Article by: Perry Romanowski

One of our favorite cosmetic chemist resources, SpecialChem for Cosmetics, just got a whole lot better.

At this website, you can find all kinds of free information about the cosmetic industry like industry news, technology launches, and even some basic articles. This is good and all, but the INCI Directory that they just launched is really something special. In fact, in some ways it’s even BETTER than the online version of the actual INCI dictionary published by the PCPC.

And best of all…it’s FREE!

INCI Dictionary

The INCI Dictionary is the book which contains all the legal names for the ingredients used in cosmetics. See this previous post on naming cosmetic ingredients for more information. Unfortunately, to get access to the online version you have to be a paying member of the PCPC (not something most individuals can afford).

With the new INCI Directory from SpecialChem, all you need to do is be a registered member to get access. It’s great!

Why the INCI Directory is useful

As a new cosmetic chemist, you are going to run into names of chemicals you’ve never heard. There are literally thousands of compounds and new ones being launched all the time. You just can’t keep up.

If you want to know more about a chemical with an unfamiliar name you would have to go search for the supplier or visit the library (unless you had access to the INCI online dictionary). Now, you can use the INCI Directory instead.

INCI Directory Benefits

The best thing about the INCI Directory for a formulation chemist is the search function. You can look up chemicals by their CAS numbers and by partial matches of their name. One of the biggest complaints about the online INCI Dictionary is that their search function is terrible. You need exact matches instead of partial matches.

Another great feature is the extra information attached to each compound. You’ll find links to technical data sheets, suggested starting formulations, articles which discuss the ingredient, news mentions of the ingredient and even a list of finished products that use the ingredient. This is much more information than the INCI Dictionary gives.

INCI Directory Deficiencies

The primary problem with the free directory is that you have no guarantee that the information is up-to-date and accurate. The PCPC might change something about their listing which the directory might not update. But this is of minor concern when you are doing some basic background research on an ingredient.

The other problem is that you don’t get the chemical formula or molecular structure like you do with the standard INCI Dictionary. However, this information is easily obtained through the numerous technical data sheets that are attached to each entry.

INCI Directory

This is a great resource that every cosmetic chemist should be using on a regular basis. The free information should speed up your development time and introduce you to new cosmetic materials you might be interested in trying. It doesn’t replace the INCI Dictionary, but it certainly makes the information much more useful.

Excellent work SpecialChem!!

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27 comments

  1. Louna

    Thank you very much for this article. That’s the information i needed for my research.
    I have two questions and I would be happy if you could answer them :
    1 – Do you know why INCI library access is not free ? Data gathering and indexing was, originally, made for costomers (I guess) to help them make better choices. I can’t understand this point … above all the price is really really hight. That’s not fair.
    2 – There are many sites out there (like http://cosmetics.specialchem.com you talked about) that offer to look for cosmetics components based on the INCI name. Do you have any idea on how these sites work ? Where did they get the data from ? Have they paid the PCPC membership ?

    Again thank you and have a good day,
    HP

    1. Perry Romanowski

      1. The INCI dictionary was not made for consumers. It was made for manufacturers which is why it costs a lot of money.

      2. Yes, they likely have a paid PCPC membership or they get the data in some other way like through the individual raw material manufacturers.

  2. Artan

    hi Perry
    could you explain that what is the Eucerine? i can’t find it in INCI. Although i ‘ve seen on label of many product in European union. Does Eucerin is an independent chemical compound? Whether or not ,this emollient just produced by Eucerin in France?
    thank you for your sharing

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Eucerine is a brand that has many different products. I don’t know what product you are looking for. Here is the ingredient list of their Q10 anti-wrinkle product.

      Water, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Cocoate, Hydrogenated Coco Glycerides, Stearyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Octyldodecanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ubiquinone, Biotin, Biosaccharide Gum 1, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Beta Carotene, Tocopherol, 1,2 Hexanediol, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Trisodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol

      There is nothing unique to Eucerine here.

  3. Sephiria

    If an ingredient’s INCI does not show up in that directory(or in Cosing), does that mean it cannot be used? I’m thinking about Nobiletin in particular.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You need to use ingredients that have an INCI name. Check with the supplier to get the name.

  4. Mustafa long

    Hello Perry,

    Thank you for this amazing resource! I was looking to start exporting to Canada and EU and have ran into an INCI conundrum. In the US I have listed my ingredients as they are ranked concentration with the exact INCI name. For example if the third highest concentration ingredient (ingredient 3) was INCI named: water and air and sugar (example) the label’s ingredients would look as follows : ingredient 1, ingredient 2, water, air, sugar. Now my first question is: Should I look up the concentrations of these 3 ingredients and put them in different places on the label or am I doing it correctly placing them as I did in the example? Secondly, would you do this for an export product as well. The problem I am running into is that for export they need exact or close to exact range in which the ingredient is present. So ingredient 3 in the above example may be at 30%, however the individual INCI components obviously are not; And of course if I listed them each at 30% my formulation would have well over 100% of ingredients which make it up. My formulas and products are good but not 150% good. Thank you for your consideration of my question.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      Yes, you have to list ingredients by % activity in your formula. If the ingredient is 98% water, 1% air and 1% sugar you would have to list the water first but then could put the air and sugar in any order. Yes, do that for exported products. All ingredients should be listed in order of % activity. But at 1% or less you can list them in any order.

  5. nidhi agarwal

    Can you please confirm INCI name of Lycopene in CTFA dictionary? Thanks.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I don’t have access to an official INCI so I can’t say for certain & you shouldn’t use this advice as evidence for any decision you make. But as far as I can find, Lycopene is the official INCI name.

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  7. Christian Leymann

    The INCI from Special4Cosmetics obviously has disappeared. I didn’t manage to find it again after the redesign of their webpage (which is now much worse than it was before…)

    1. Perry Romanowski

      I think you can still search the site for ingredients. It’s just not as nice.

  8. Greg Hahn

    I have European customers asking about a product we produce and its use in a cosmetic application. I found the INCI name listing in the SpecChem website–thanks for that tip. They are also suggesting other info be included: CTFA Monograph ID XXXX (where XXXX is a numerical value, presumably an ID number). What is this number and what does it mean to the industry? I cannot find much about the number at all, only about the organization CTFA or PCPC itself.

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You need to check with the PCPC for the number. I’m not familiar with a CTFA Monograph number.

  9. lanie

    how much is the Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary? thank you

    1. Perry Romanowski

      You’ll have to check with the PCPC

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  13. Vladas

    I’m sorry to tell, but this INCI Directory is crap. Because it is far from being complete. I tried to look for some pigments – for some I have found European INCI names only, for some US INCI names only, for some non-INCI names at all, and some are missing completely. It’s incomplete and misguiding. I wouldn’t trust the info.

    1. Perry

      Thanks for the feedback. I have found the directory useful but as you suggest it is not 100% reliable

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  15. evelyn

    Aldee Inci name?

    1. Perry

      I do not know what that ingredient is. Who is the supplier?

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