What You Don’t Know About Unpronounceable Beauty Ingredients

You might assume that any ingredient with a long or difficult-to-pronounce name must be bad for you, but that’s a myth. Take a look at our product ingredient lists and you’ll likely find a few scary-sounding words—but, unlike what you may have been led to believe, that’s nothing to worry about. Why? Beautycounter uses the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) system, an internationally recognized way of standardizing labels on cosmetic products. It’s designed to help companies stay consistent, minimize language barriers, and provide consumers with greater transparency.

Here’s what you need to know about INCI and deciphering cosmetic labels:

There are over 16,000 ingredients on the INCI list, making it the most comprehensive list of ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products.

In the U.S., the FDA requires that all cosmetics include a list of ingredients using standardized INCI names. It’s also required in Canada, the European Union, and many other places. However, despite the FDA regulation, the policy is not well enforced.

Complying with INCI means we identify our ingredients by their proper Latin names instead of trade names (for example, prunus armeniaca kernel oil instead of apricot kernel oil, or butyrospermum parkii instead of shea butter). You can see that even very simple, safer ingredients may have fairly complex spelling or pronunciation.

To make it easier for you—the consumer—we may also include each ingredient’s common, more recognizable name in parenthesis.

In addition, ingredients are listed in the order of highest to lowest concentration—except ingredients with a concentration of 1% or below and color ingredients, which can be listed in any order at the end.

Want to learn more about Beautycounter’s ingredients? Click HERE to check out our Ingredient Glossary, a comprehensive collection of every single ingredient used in our products. All of our ingredients have gone through our Ingredient Selection Process, which means that they have been carefully assessed for safety, and no ingredients are hiding as “fragrance.”