Places to find ingredient lists for cosmetics

In the days before the Internet became what it is now, it was tough to find lists of ingredients. Even back then analyzing cosmetic ingredient lists was an extremely helpful exercise for developing your skills as a formulator. Typically, we had to buy the product or physically search store shelves if we wanted ingredient lists.

Not any more!  Today, there are lots of source for ingredient lists online.  Here are some of my favorites.

10+ Sources for Beauty Product Ingredient Lists

Mainstream products

Target - Here’s where you go to find the most comprehensive list of mainstream products. If it’s put out by a big brand, you’ll probably find it here.

Walmart - They’re the biggest in the world so they have a huge number of products listed. This is the first place to go for mainstream beauty products. Information is highly reliable.

Walgreens - Another source for mainstream personal care and beauty products. Highly reliable information.

Specialty brands

Ulta - If you’re looking for salon brands or products from department stores or spas, this is a good place to. Ingredient lists are highly reliable.

Sephora - Another source like Ulta with salon brands and higher end specialty products. Another highly reliable source.

Credo Beauty - If you’re looking for indie beauty, natural products you can probably find it here. But this source is less reliable because some of the small companies don’t follow proper labeling rules.

Beautypedia - Lots of specialty brands here and a nice format for finding information. Information is reliable.

Unique listings

Incidecoder - This site has lots of listings including both mainstream and specialty products. One of the best things about this site is that it gives you the ability to search ingredient lists by a specific ingredient type. Unfortunately, some of the information they list about ingredient function is a bit dubious or exaggerated.

Amazon - The biggest retailer on the Internet. You can likely find almost any product listed here. Unfortunately, not every product has the full ingredient listing. Also, the information is not always official and there are a lot of individual sellers who don’t put accurate information. So, this source can be a bit hit or miss.

Ebay - Like Amazon, there is are a lot of products listed here and things from around the world. But not all the products have ingredient lists although you can contact the seller and get some ingredient lists. I’ve found this useful for products from outside the US.

Brand websites - Of course, a great place to find ingredient lists is the product website. Many beauty brands include their full product ingredient list. However, there are a number of brands that don’t. Or they provide their “marketing” ingredient list which can be misleading. It may be helpful for consumers / marketing but not as helpful for formulators.

Ingredient list errors

While these sources are helpful and filled with information, you need to realize that often there are errors. The errors can come from data entry mistakes. For example, the old listed Cetrimonium Chloride in some Suave shampoo products. Suave didn’t use that ingredient.  Other errors come from a misunderstanding (or ignorance) of the rules. Many small brands have errors in their ingredient lists such as

  • Listing Extracts / Infused waters first
  • Listing Trade Names
  • Not including all the required ingredients

Maybe in the future I’ll write about some errors you commonly see on ingredient lists. But for now, you should just realize that not all of the ones you find online will be accurate. If an ingredient list looks strange or makes you wonder how a brand can make a product without cosmetic preservatives or emulsifiers, the answer is often…they can’t.

To your formulating success!

If you want to learn to formulate cosmetics the way that they do in the cosmetic industry, consider taking our Practical Cosmetic Formulation course.

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How to Become a Cosmetic Chemist

The job of a cosmetic chemist, or as they call it in the UK a cosmetic scientist, requires you to do a wide variety of things both in and out of the lab. Your main responsibility will be that of a formulator. This means you mix raw materials together to create cosmetic products like lipstick, nail polish, skin lotions, shampoos, toothpaste and any other type of personal care product.

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