Help! How to read the labels of my cosmetics correctly?

Help! How to read the labels of my cosmetics correctly?

You use the same beauty cares every day, they are part of your routine, and you wonder what they really contain? Problem: This endless and incomprehensible list on your cosmetic labels gives you a headache just thinking about it! We know that they are not always (never) easy to decipher, which is why we are taking our pen and our own words today to give you some leads that will hopefully allow you to better decipher your labels. Let's go!

How is a cosmetic label composed?

Subject to European cosmetics regulations, all cosmetic products marketed in Europe are required to list their ingredients on their packaging under a specific name: INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients). This is where you will find the most important information because you will see that with these few tips, the INCI list will tell you if your beauty product is clean or not.

English vs. Latin

The first rule of this regulation is to fill in the chemical substances in English : "alcohol", "fragrance"; and the natural and non transformed ingredients into Latin: "aqua" for water which is surely natural, or the botanical name for plants. So take the time to browse this list because it will help you to know the natural origin of your products. In short, you can relax with each discovery of a Latin word; but run away from English!

The hunt for organic labels

As for organic labels, be wary because it is possible that a product that contains only 10% organic ingredients may still be recognized as organic by some labels. So don't let yourself be swayed by slogans and the magic of marketing because 10% is still a paltry amount.

From the most present to the least present

Another thing to know about INCI is that the ingredients are listed in descending order of concentration, from the most present ingredient in the formula to the least present. Thus, we regularly find the mention "Aqua" first because water represents about 50% of most formulas.

What ingredients should you watch?

Okay, you've gathered all the memories of your Latin and English lessons? But now, concretely, how can we quickly identify controversial substances? Don't panic, here's how to find the most common ones more easily ;)

The parabens

Used as chemical preservatives, parabens are frequently present in industrial cosmetic products to fight against the development of many bacteria. But they have a bad reputation for being allergenic. So to recognize them on your labels among all the incomprehensible words, look for words with -zoate like parahydroxybenzoate; or words with "paraben" : propylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben…


Silicones, on the other hand, give the illusion of softness to your cosmetic products. But in reality, they have no nourishing effect, and of course, sweetness has a price because this substance is not at all biodegradable and therefore has a negative impact on our environment. Not to mention it clogs pores of our skin!

To find them and be more suspicious, chase away the endings by -cone, -one, -conol or even -xane cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane, …


Among the most controversial toxic ingredients, there are phthalates, which fix the perfume and the smell of your cosmetics, but are also accused of being endocrine disrupters. Therefore, in Europe, only diethyl phthalate is still authorised. So here, make sure you have the words "phthalate-free".

PEGs or PPGs

More commonly known as polymers, these are petrochemical derivatives made from ethylene oxide (just that). They fulfil the same role as silicones by providing smoothness to your cosmetic products, but they also pollute our environment and our skin. Here are the ones you should remember: PEG for polyethylene glycol, PPG for polypropylene glycol but also cellulose, crosspolymer,…

We hope you see a little clearer with our explanations. In any case, at Romy, we have nothing to hide: our skincare products are at least 95% of natural origin, the remaining 5% being synthetic elements derived from green chemistry to ensure the stability of our formulas while continuing to respect our planet. Our ingredient blacklist is displayed right here and if you ask yourself the question: all of our skincare products are made in France.