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What Does INCI Stand For?

An unfamiliar term to many, INCI is short for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients. All cosmetics worldwide must utilize an INCI term for their product’s ingredients regardless of the brand name or other identifying terms on a product.

What is an INCI Name?

The INCI name is the standardized terminology that is given to the individual ingredients of any cosmetic. The INCI, pronounced “inky”,” is the term recognized all around the world for each specific ingredient to allow consumers, producers and suppliers to quickly and completely identify each ingredient included in that product even if that country or region has another name for the ingredient. The INCI term may be the name of the product or reflect the ingredient or ingredients in a beauty product. The INCI cannot be trademarked, however, since any product containing that ingredient may also utilize the INCI name on their packaging labels, marketing or advertising materials (when ingredients are listed).

Brand Name vs INCI Name

The brand name is also called the trade name, and this is how a product is personalized by a manufacturer or supplier. Some brand or trade names are widely used around the world, while others are localized and specific to an area, region or country. Some larger suppliers may use different brands or trade names for identical products in different markets, reflecting the feel and culture of that market. The INCI name, however, is a standardized term given to a product. Many suppliers and manufacturers utilize this term prominently on their labels and marketing because the term or description is universally understood even by consumers in some cases.

Examples of INCI Names

Here are a few examples of some ingredients and their corresponding INCI names:

Product: Unrefined Shea Butter

INCI Name: Butyrospermum Parkii Butter

Product: Mango Butter

INCI Name: Mangifera Indica Seed Butter

Product: Cocoa Butter

INCI Name: Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter

INCI Name Listing

All INCI names are included in a comprehensive dictionary and handbook published yearly by the Personal Care Products Council. While this handy reference may be accessed online in part in some places, suppliers and manufacturers typically use this expensive reference book of over 21,000 names for labeling, branding and marketing. The Council comes up with the formulation of the INCI names using standardized conventions, and each year’s publication not only references all terms currently accepted in use but also terms that have been recently deleted or changed from previous years.

Consumer Use of INCI Terms

Have you ever wanted to try a new product but were unsure of the ingredients, so you had to pass? The INCI dictionary can help you identify those unfamiliar ingredients so you can snag the newest natural skincare product with confidence that the ingredients in the product are exactly what you need or want to try out. The INCI dictionary is a great reference tool to really understand what is in the cosmetic or skincare products you love to use.