the INCI

INCI: what it is and how to read it

26 October 2022
Prigen’s commitment to essentiality.

Our mission is to support and improve skin health by developing essential, nonaggressive formulations that deliver the correct amount of actives on a daily basis while minimizing potential allergens. Our formulations are developed for dermatological topical use.
The INCI ingredient list is reduced to only those components necessary to ensure the efficacy of the actives and to preserve and maintain their properties. The lack of harsh additives ensures the safe use of all our products.
All dermatologically tested for sensitive skin.

Our products:
  • Do not irritate.
  • Are 100% safe.
  • 100% effective.
  • They do not contain parabens, silicones, EDTA, PEG or other harsh additives.
  • They are all Nickel tested.
What INCI is?

The INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) is an international designation used to indicate the different cosmetic product ingredients on the label. It is used in all EU member states, as well as in many other countries around the world, including, for example, the USA, Russia, Brazil, Canada, and South Africa. […] The purpose of the INCI code is primarily to enable people with allergies to easily identify the presence of the substance they are allergic to within the product before it is used, wherever in Europe (and often the world) they are.

With this in mind, we can begin to try to understand how it reads and therefore what to avoid.

How does it read?

Just as with food, the list of ingredients is drawn up respecting the quantities contained; in first place is the ingredient contained in the largest quantity and gradually the others until the last one that has the lowest concentration.

It is therefore important to pay attention to labels and check that active ingredients are always in the first places of a formulation.

Some ingredients have the function of stabilizing the product, others have the function of emulsifying the ingredients to provide the right firmness and homogeneity, still others are preservatives that help prevent premature spoilage and the presence of unwanted and potentially harmful bacteria, and some are colorants or fragrances with the sole purpose of improving texture and olfactory impact.

Why prefer products with essential INCIs?

As already explained, the INCI table is not meant to be a warning to manufacturers but a protection for the consumer, with particular regard to allergic and sensitive individuals.

The fewer ingredients a product contains, the greater the chance of reducing even potential allergic effects. In addition, it is good to consider that many of the ingredients used in cosmetic products are not functional for the proposed effect (anti-aging, elasticizing, lymph-draining, etc.) but to improve the texture, make the scent more pleasant, achieve the best texture or simply facilitate the blending of products. In addition, the fewer the number of ingredients, the greater the possible concentration of active ingredients. Taking a very simple example, in a 50-mL jar if the ingredients were really limited to just the active ingredients we would have a much higher concentration of the active ingredients than in a similar product but with a higher number of ingredients. A higher concentration of active ingredients therefore equates to a guarantee that they provide the necessary and required degree of efficacy.

In essence, an essential INCI has 3 major advantages:

  • Reduce the potential for allergies
  • Increase the concentration of the active ingredient
  • Improve product performance
Are all ingredients allowed by law harmless?

We have always assumed that ingredients allowed by law, are also harmless. This of course is not always true. In fact, the law only states the maximum allowable concentrations, not the risk factors. This means, for example, that preservatives per se would not be harmless, but their use makes it possible to contain the risk of bacterial contamination that any formulation may face once the package is opened. It is certainly important to check that preservatives are in the last places on the INCI list and therefore in small amounts in order to avoid potential allergic effects.

Every individual is different and responds differently to the administration (topical and otherwise) of ingredients. This means that each skin responds differently to the substances used. The greatest problems will be encountered in allergic individuals, but not only that.

One must pay close attention to what is listed in INCI and test products on small areas first. This greatly reduces the risk of widespread allergic reactions.


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