How Ingredients Must be Listed on Cosmetic Labels

How Ingredients Must be Listed on Cosmetic Labels

Cosmetic labels are well-regulated, and every ingredient contained within products must be listed.  In addition, requirements are that the listing must be in descending order of predominance by weight. This means that the largest amount of any ingredient in a cosmetic product must be listed first. This is important to know because some ingredients may cause an allergic reaction, and you as the consumer have a right to information that tells you what is in your cosmetics.

Here, we will cover what this means for cosmetic manufacturers and provide a guide on listing ingredients on product labels.

What is a Cosmetic Label?

This is a label - typically found on the item’s packaging - that's used for listing information regarding the composition and concentration of a product. Labeling often includes information such as the product's name, ingredients, suggested use, warnings, and contact information of the manufacturer. 

While the specific requirements for cosmetics labelling vary from country to country, many manufacturers voluntarily follow an international labeling guide set forth by organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

According to cosmetic regulations, each product must have a label on packaging that lists the content in order of predominance. The FDA defines this as ‘the descending order of quantity of each ingredient.’ This means that the largest quantity is listed first, followed by the second highest quantity, and so on.  If an ingredient makes up less than 1% of the total product formulation, it may be listed in any order after the first several ingredients.

The FDA also requires that certain ingredients be given special attention on labels. These ‘trade secret’ do not have to be listed by name, but they must be identified as ‘and/or other’ followed by their general class or function.

Role Of Cosmetic Labels

These provide consumers with information about the product, including its purpose, ingredients, and warnings. They must be accurate and properly reflect the contents. For example, an ‘all-natural’ designation means that all ingredients are naturally derived and have not been chemically processed. Similarly, a declaration of ‘hypoallergenic’ means that the product is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction, and ‘non-comedogenic’ indicates that the product is unlikely to cause blocked pores or blackheads.

cosmetic label

The Importance of Correct Labeling

The importance of correct labelling cannot be overrated.   It helps ensure that the consumer gets what they expect, ensures quality ingredients, and that it has been tested for safety.

Additionally, it will help the consumer choose their correct skin care. For instance, ‘anti-aging’ or ‘hydrating’ properties help consumers make more informed decisions about buying products.

Reasons Why Ingredients Must Be Listed

Here are some of the most important reasons:

Allergies and Sensitivities

Many people have allergies or are sensitive to certain ingredients commonly used in cosmetics and personal care items. Without knowing what ingredient is in a product, it can be impossible to tell if it is safe for someone to use.

Listing ingredients allows people with allergies or sensitivities to avoid products that contain triggers.

Avoiding Animal Cruelty

Some ingredients commonly used in cosmetics are derived from animals. Examples of these include:

  • Squalene (usually derived from shark liver oil)
  • Gelatin (derived from animal skin, bones, and connective tissue)
  • Glycerin (can be derived from animal fat)

Knowing what is in a product beforehand is crucial for people who want to avoid using products containing animal-derived ingredients.

cosmetica label

Know What You're Putting on Your Skin

Your skin is your body's largest organ. Everything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream and can end up causing problems internally, even if there are no immediate visible effects.

Avoiding Potentially Harmful Chemicals

Many cosmetics and personal care products contain harmful chemicals. For example, phthalates and parabens are two chemicals that are commonly used and have been linked to health problems like endocrine disruption and cancer.

That's why it's important to know what ingredients are in the cosmetics and personal care items you use daily. Without this information, you could expose yourself to harmful chemicals without even realizing it.


The bottom line is that cosmetic companies should list all their ingredients on the label, as this is the only way to ensure that consumers know what they are putting on their skin.

By law, companies must list certain ingredients (such as color additives and fragrances) but are not required to list other potentially harmful chemicals. This leaves consumers in the dark about what they are applying to their skin.

A company that takes their responsibilities of providing information to the consumer seriously will undoubtedly produce a quality product, and in turn reap the benefits from customers that become raving fans.

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