Home Cosmetic Science Talk General The INCI labeling practice

  • The INCI labeling practice

    Posted by Anonymous on March 26, 2014 at 3:58 am

    Hi all!

    I finally decided to post this question, as it has been bothering me for a long time and I have never been able to find out the answer to it. This is still just a hobby for me, but I would still like to know the official way of doing things :-)

    My confusion is about the INCI label. I understand the general idea, what kind of names to use and that the ingredients should be labeled in descending order until 1%, after which they can be in random order. I also understand labeling perfume, flavor and pigments. What I don’t understand is if I have an ingredient which is not just one raw material, but a combination of raw materials, how am I going to label that?

    I’ll give an example that I’m just making up as I’m writing this, so please don’t pay much attention to the formula :-) This is just to understand how the INCI is written and deliberately choosing certain type of ingredients to understand this better.

    So let’s say my formula is this with the brand names of the ingredients and their percentages:

    water q.s. to 100%
    olive oil 10%
    urea 4%
    hydrating complex 4%
    olivem 1000 3%
    preservative 1%
    xanthan gum 0.3%

    The ingredients’ own INCI labels are as follows:

    hydrating complex = aqua, sodium lactate, sodium PCA, glycine, fructose, urea, niacinamide, inositol, sodium benzoate, lactic acid
    olivem 1000 = cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate
    preservative = benzyl alcohol, dehydroacetic acid, aqua

    What should the INCI label for the lotion look like? Mind you, I live in EU, if that makes any difference, but what I’ve read thus far, it doesn’t seem to in this case.

    I didn’t include an ingredient here, where the INCI would have the (and) instead of a comma, but it would be nice to know how to handle those as well. I remember reading somewhere that the (and) is just replaced with a comma, but I’ve also seen products where the (and) has been retained.

    I’m guessing that aqua isn’t going to be written three times nor is urea written twice. What I am confused about is, will all the ingredients in the hydrating complex (minus aqua and urea) be written at the 4% “mark”, before the olivem 1000 ingredients? Even though it’s likely that there is more cetearyl olivate in the product than niacinamide? Since I’m only a hobbyist, I don’t know if it’s possible to have access to how much each raw material has been used to make each ingredient.

    I am so hoping I could finally understand this, because it is making me nuts :-) I’m also toying with the idea of setting myself a web based application for formulating purposes (I’m a nerdy girl) and it would be nice if the application could create the INCI label for me, but I need to know the logic behind it first!

    Thank you! :-)

    cherri replied 9 years, 8 months ago 4 Members · 8 Replies
  • 8 Replies
  • chemist77

    March 26, 2014 at 4:21 am

    I am sure the supplier can give you a breakdown alongwith the percentage of each ingredient in their technical data sheet. They wouldn’t mention it one to one but they can definitely provide a rough figure for the same. Accordingly and as per the final calculation of each ingredient’s percentage you can draw down your ingredient list.

  • Anonymous

    March 26, 2014 at 5:42 am

    @milliachemist: so essentially what you are saying is that I do have to know the percentage of each and every ingredient in the product and create the INCI label based on that?

    What confuses me is that if that was the practice, then why aren’t the manufacturers of the ingredients including that information on the MSDS or some other data sheet? Seems weird that everyone who then wants to use the product available, would have to go back to the manufacturers or suppliers to personally ask for the information that is essential to know according to laws.

    Mind you, I’m not arguing you :-) Just wondering about the practice.

  • chemist77

    March 26, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Well I am based in Middle East and I have not seen such kind of document where they give the breakdown in percentage but when I was in France for a short period I saw suppliers’ documents mentioning the breakdown of the mixtures (where applicable) and mentioning the percentage as well. Otherwise without such breakdown you cannot draw a correct ingredient list or else you have to put that ingredient mixture in the list as per it’s percentage in the formula though I am sure it wouldn’t be absolutely right.

  • chemist77

    March 26, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Maybe other mentors here can explain it better.

  • alchemist

    March 26, 2014 at 6:27 am

    From the information provided you cant complete a correct ingredient list.  You need to know the % break down of your ingredients. 

    From memory Olivem 1000 is about 60% Cetearyl Olivate & 40% Sorbitan Olivate.  So what you have is

    Water qs
    Olive Oil 10%
    Urea 4% + the bit from your Hydrating Complex
    Cetearyl Olivate  1.8%
    Sorbitan Olivate 1.2%
    Benzyl alcohol <1% 
    Dehydroacetic acid <1% (Note you need to know the level since it is a restricted ingredient in EU)
    Xanthan Gum

    You still need to figure our where sodium lactate, sodium PCA, glycine, fructose, niacinamide, inositol, sodium benzoate & lactic acid fit in.  Rough guess would be that they are all <1% in the final product.

  • Anonymous

    March 26, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Thank you both!

    OK, so the confusion I had was really based on the fact that I was missing information (and still am, but I’m not selling any products now, so it’s not hugely important). Since that information hasn’t been available to me, I wasn’t sure if it was available to professionals.

    I can now understand the logic perfectly. Just can’t follow it in practice at the moment :-)

  • mikebavington

    March 26, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Yes. What milliachemist said.

  • cherri

    March 28, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I have approx. % breakdown for above ingredients. let me know I can give you approx. so that you can use for your labeling.. please note you can scramble your ingredients that are below 1 percent.

Log in to reply.