Shelves and shelves with a winking design. Rows and double rows of packages, testers, vials... The busy order and the clock that marks the inexorable approach of dinner time (and you have nothing to put on the table). Grab the first face cream with "Antiage" written on it and off to the cash register.
But will it be an effective formulation? Will you give me what you promise? If you want to understand if the face cream you're going to buy is a good product (and if it suits you) don't stop at the image of the package: turn it upside down and read the INCI list!
Don't you know what the INCI face cream is? Here are some tips to unravel the jungle of cosmetics by learning to read the INCI list!
INCI facial creams. Identikit of a cosmetic
INCI of face creams, this stranger. Do you know what he is and where he is? All cosmetics, from skin creams to foundation, from bath foam to perfume, tell us what they are made of through that thick list, often in tiny print, written on the back, sides or under the packaging. That list is the INCI list, which stands for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. In other words: the identity card of every cosmetic.
The INCI of face creams (or any other cosmetic) is a nomenclature adopted at European level, so that a cream can be identified in any European Union country where it is sold. In the United States, on the other hand, the ICID (International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook) nomenclature is followed, adopted also in Asia, although without the obligation to report all the formulation.
But we bet that you too arch your eyebrows in front of those sibylline names? And the codes with letters and numbers then, what will they be? Let's get some clarity on the INCI of face creams.
INCI list: 3 reasons why it is important to read it?
Checking the INCI of face creams is the first caution to have when buying an emulsion for the skin. Don't you want to know what you will make them absorb every day? How many times have you bought a skin cream without knowing what it's made of? The rush, the glare of the glamorous packaging, the echo of the TV commercial that's left in your head... Then you use it and it disappoints you. Or worse, it irritates your face.
The INCI list of a face cream is important precisely because it guides you to make an informed choice. Here are three reasons why it's important to read it.
1. of all, you'll find out if the substance that should characterise your face cream is really its strong point: the fundamental ingredient should be in the first half of the list (and in the next paragraph we'll go into this point in more detail). In this way you'll avoid being charmed by promising advertising claims that focus on the "magic" ingredient but then put very little of it inside the jar of cream.
2. Paying attention to the INCI of face creams is also essential to stay away from allergenic substances or that a particularly sensitive skin might not like: even if quality cosmetics are always tested and mostly protect against allergies, you may always get a cosmetic with some ingredient that is not recommended.
3. Finally - but for ecolovers it will be a central point! - From the INCI of face creams we can see if our cream is not only good for the skin, but also good for Nature. Does it contain silicones, parabens, petrochemical derivatives? Are the fragrances natural or of chemical synthesis? Whoever prefers to choose products as eco&bio as much as possible, will surely review the whole INCI list!
The higher it is the more there is: how to read the INCI list
Whether it is a moisturizing face cream or anti-wrinkle serum, the first thing you need to know is that in INCI creams the ingredients are always listed in descending order of quantity: at the beginning, therefore, you will find the substances present in a higher percentage and gradually those less used.
At the top of the INCI list in general there is always water, immediately followed by an oil: these are the essential "bricks" from which you start to create a cosmetic emulsion, we talked about it in this post.
In many INCI face creams it is common to read "mineral oil", "petrolatum" or "paraffinum liquidum": these are oils derived from petroleum. Those who love ecocosmetics can look for formulations based on vegetable oils, such as sweet almond oil.
Then, in the INCI list of a face cream there are the emulsifiers, generally represent from 5% to 15% of a cream and are used to make the formulation stable. Scrolling through the INCI list you will then find all the other ingredients that define the texture and give it a particular colour or scent: towards the end of the INCI list of face creams are therefore indicated mainly preservatives, colourings and fragrances (also natural or synthetic).
In the lower part of the list there are also the important "Active" ingredients that make the formulation functional for a specific objective. The concentration of Active is decisive for the effectiveness of a cream and is usually between 1% and 4%.
Small detail: concentrations of less than 1% can be reported in a random order... So it is not necessarily the case that the taillight on your INCI list is the least used ingredient of all.
Latin VS English: nature and chemistry in INCI face creams
If curiosity drove you to the bathroom shelf to go through all the INCI creams you use, you may be wondering... But why so much Latin or English?!
The reason is simple and if you overcome your mistrust of Cicero's language and foreign terminology, you'll understand at a glance which ingredients are vegetable and which are artificial.
Yes, because the Latin terminology, in the INCI list, indicates natural ingredients: pure vegetable oils that are not chemically modified, or tree and flower essences that can be used to give fragrance to the cream, are reported with the Latin botanical name. The sweet almond oil we mentioned above, for example, you might find it as "prunus amygdalus dulcis oil".
And the terms in English? In INCI face creams are used for ingredients of chemical synthesis, made in the laboratory, present within the limits allowed by law, tested and safe (except personal allergies). To this family belong silicones and the vast majority of preservatives: in an INCI list you recognize them when they end up in -one and -xane (silicones) or in -well and -well (parabens). There are also formulations with natural preservatives, such as tea tree oil and other essential oils with an antimicrobial action... Whether artificial or natural, remember that preservatives are essential so that our water-based cream does not become an oasis for bacteria and mould!
Let's close with colouring agents: they are artificial if the INCI list shows the abbreviation CI (colour index) followed by 5 digits.
Now that you know the ABC to decipher the INCI of face creams, you can take care of your skin in a more conscious way!
On our website, Dr. Lauranne's experts have developed different formulations for various skin needs: find the one that's right for you!