Figuring out the INCI list

What is the INCI list?

This is the list of cosmetic ingredients that make up a product. Beyond this somewhat barbaric abbreviation hides a quantity of information necessary for us consumers.

INCI stands for "International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients".

Manufacturers of cosmetic products have an obligation, according to a European Directive, to display the list of ingredients of each product on the packaging of our cosmetics.

For those fanatical for details of the European Directives and Regulations, do not hesitate to go to the page of the Inventory of cosmetic ingredients in Europe, with all the existing legislation.

Figuring out the INCI list

How to read the INCI list?


The compounds are stated in Latin or in English, facilitating their decoding the world over.
Note: this list contains the complete list of the compounds contained in a cosmetic in descending order. So, if the list starts with Aloe barbadensis Miller extract, then a juice or an aloe vera extract is the compound most present in your product.

 Generally, the 5 or 6 ingredients first listed represent over 70% of the total product. However, the INCI list will never provide you with the exact content quantity.

Careful, a compound dosed at less than 1% may be just about anywhere at the end of the list. For example if you have 0.4% methylparaben and 0.01% vegetable oil argan, the manufacturer may very well mention vegetable oil argan first (argania spinosa) then the methylparaben.

Practise your skills:

Here is the INCI list of a fake natural product containing more paraffin and silicone than shea butter:

Figuring out the INCI list

Are my cosmetics harmful?

Watch out for blending between CHEMICAL and HARMFUL ...
Slow Cosmétique is not against "chemistry" in general!

The water we drink every day is a chemical ingredient! Chemical exchanges take place in our human body, etc.! Thus NATURAL is not incompatible with CHEMICAL and a so-called NATURAL ingredient can be HARMFUL! We believe, however, that natural ingredients (vegetable oils, essential oils, clays, honey, etc.) make more SENSE for quality cosmetics.


A priori and individually, the cosmetics offered for sale on the market are not harmful to humans as such.

They all must meet strict standards. The relevant health authorities keep a close eye on the situation ...

Nonetheless, it is common for these same authorities to withdraw molecules or lower the levels of the ingredients in the authorized lists because they prove problematic (e.g. aluminium and its salts, UV filters, formaldehyde donors…). Some studies also reveal the endocrine disrupting nature of many cosmetic ingredients.

Furthermore, the cosmetics cocktail effect (your deodorant + your shampoo + your cream, etc ...) is still not well known in the field of cosmetics. Often only molecules are studied in isolation...

more rarely in their context of association, which is very often the case of cosmetics! We think it would be really necessary to produce more studies on this notable cocktail effect in the cosmetics portfolio...

This is why we want to consume fewer cosmetics, and the most natural ones possible. Isn’t an ounce of ‘prevention’ worth a pound of ‘cure’?