Non-INCI ingredient names

INCI stands for 'International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients'. It's basically a huge list, with about 20 000 listings, of standardised ingredient names that cosmetics manufacturers have to use on the ingredient lists of the products. For example, instead of writing Olive Oil the INCI name is Olea Europaea Fruit Oil.

At INCIDecoder, we see it in practice that some cosmetics manufacturers use ingredient names that do not accord with the INCI standards. Sometimes it's an honest mistake, sometimes it's sloppiness, or lack of knowledge and understanding of the regulations of the INCI standard.

Non-INCI ingredient names most often fall under one of the following categories:

  • Seriously mistyped or miswritten ingredients: e.g. a whole word is missing from an ingredient name, like instead of "Sodium Laureth Sulfate" listing just "Sodium Sulfate". It could either refer to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which are very different ingredients. A mistake like this often makes it impossible to know what the ingredient actually is.
  • The trade name is used instead of the INCI name: The trade name is the fancy name given to a product by manufacturers. It often refers to a whole list of ingredients that should be resolved by cosmetics manufacturers to the correct INCI listing, for example Matrixyl-3000 is a well-known trade name, but on the product label the correct listing is Glycerin, Aqua, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1, and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7.
  • For plant extracts, the common name of the plant is used and/or the part of the plant used is not identified: For example, Aloe Vera sounds great and easy to understand but there are lots of types of different Aloe Vera extracts used in cosmetics today, so just saying Aloe Vera is sloppy (and against the regulations).