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Understanding a list of ingredients (INCI List)

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The IDL is the list of ingredients found in every cosmetic product on the market.

Reading an IDL

On the packaging of a cosmetic product, it's mandatory to list the list of ingredients from the product's formula. Unfortunately, for most consumers, this list is difficult to understand. Take a look at these steps to help you decipher the IDL (aka the INCI list) of your favourite cosmetics.

On the list, the ingredients that are written in Latin refer to plant extracts, while the rest of the ingredients are listed in English.
The order in which the ingredients are listed is very deliberate. The first ingredients are ones that are the most present in the product's formula. Most often, water (aqua) is at the top of the list since it's generally used in large quantities as a solvent in cosmetic products.

For all ingredients with a dosage of less than 1% in the formula, the manufacturer can choose the order at the end of the list.

If there is perfume in the product formula, the list of ingredients doesn't mention its composition. Manufacturers often don't specify if the perfumes they use are naturally-derived or synthetic.