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The importance of being able to read labels on cosmetics


From perfumes to lipsticks and moisturisers, by law all cosmetics must report on their label the list of ingredients contained according to the INCI nomenclature. Unless they have a background in chemistry, consumers will find it quite difficult to understand this list.

Despite regulations on cosmetics in Europe have made huge steps forward compared to other countries, checks are not always carried out thoroughly. So for cosmetics not sold in specialised stores (pharmacies, shops that only sell toiletries and perfumes, etc.) often there is no guarantee and they contain harmful chemicals.

One of the most common ones are “phthalates”: this is a substance used to make plastic softer. Already banned in toys for children, it is used in perfumes and deodorants.

Then there are parabens, which can be found in many makeup products, plus hair care items and are used to preserve them. They are carcinogenic and can cause allergic reactions.

Also pay attention to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (Sls): this is found in cleaning products. It can remove oily substances from skin, but causes allergic reactions as well.

Unfortunately today the principle of precaution is not applied in the cosmetics industry: this means that a substance will be used until there is proof that it poses a hazard. So it is important to pay attention to the label on the product and do not trust expressions like “natural product” or “organic” reported on the packaging: one needs to analyse the INCIs to discover the nature of the substances contained. Not all consumers are able to immediately identify whether a product is good or not. A series of apps have been created to help read the INCIs reported on the labels of makeup products and cosmetics in general.