Have you ever noticed your product labels have some symbols which in passing might not mean anything? Today, I’ll tell you the message those icons are trying to convey.
So, labels give you information about the product that is contained in the container. FDA has strict labeling requirements for cosmetic products, and so do other countries where they have strong institutions for regulations. The FDA requires manufacturers or distributors to be accurate. I can make a whole video just on this subject so let me stop here. Point is, the information you see on labels is regulated and demanded by the government and it’s not randomly there for the heck of it. That being said, besides the brand logo, ingredients list, company address, you often find so many symbols.
Let's start with the front of the label. You often see this lowercase “e” down at the bottom of the container. It is known as the estimated sign, or e-mark. It is required by the EU and basically indicates the net content or the real weight of product may vary of minimum amount but still remains within the limits set by law.
The other very commonly found symbol is this open jar. The open jar icon with some number inside it indicates the Shelf life. It is called The Period After Opening (PAO) symbol. This icon indicates how many months the product will be good after it’s opened. You typically see 6months for mascaras, 6-9 months for serums and things that are concentrate and can go up 30 months depending how quickly the formulation is susceptible to oxidation.
Then we find the green dot. I’ll admit, I used to think this was a recycle symbol for a long time until I actually got immersed myself in the industry a few years ago. So this Responsibility for packaging Green Dot indicates the manufacturer financially contributes to a recycling organization to manage its packaging waste in an ecologically responsible manner. It is not a recycling symbol.
Refer to insert: When there’s required information such as ingredients and instructions to provide there may not be enough room to do so on the product container. So this symbol lets consumers know there’s a leaflet, card or other inserts to refer to inside the packaging. It also can be used to translate the label into different languages.
Next we often see FSC on paper products that may come with our products. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) indicates the paper the company uses come from responsible sources. The use of this FSC logo requires authorization and license code from the FSC.
The USDA Organic seal indicates the product has met strict production and labeling requirements of the USDA, and the final product is certified organic. Selling a product as organic when it is not can cost a company up to $11 thousand dollars. That’s particularly for USDA but there are other companies for accreditation so the penalty may vary.
Signs that include Leaping Bunny, PETA Beauty Without Bunnies, Choose Cruelty Free are trying to communicate to the consumer there was no animal testing involved. I am not going to go in depth about which companies have strict standards where they follow the supply chain to ensure but that’s what these bunnies are trying to depict.
There are several Vegan Certification Logos but the message is self explanatory: the products are free from animal products.
When you see B Corp certified, it means the companies fall into a special certification category. When a company is B Corp certified, it means that the company is part of a global movement that uses their business as a force of good. B Corp Certified companies must meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, legal accountability to balance profit and purpose, and have public transparency
Halal Certified: Halal accredited products refer to products that are not haram. Meaning, they were manufactured, produced, and composed of ingredients that are permissible under Islamic law according to the Quran. In the case of cosmetic and personal care products, this means that they do not contain animal byproducts and do not contain prohibited alcohols.
Recycling symbol: these Three arrows represent an international recycling symbol. It means that the product is recyclable and that the packaging is composed by recycled material. There are 7 category which you can see by the number written inside of these arrows. We all know this topic deserves a video of its own so I will come back to this topic another time.