What do the Labels on Your Beauty Products Really Mean?
19 July 2022
When it comes to product labelling, understanding what all of the terms and symbols really mean can be easier
said than done. From sustainability to safety, it’s only natural to want to know what exactly is in the product you’re
using, how effective it really is, and if it’s been produced in a way that aligns with your values.
Allbeauty has done the hard work for you and put together a guide to the most common symbols and terms used
on beauty products, so you know exactly what you’re using on your skin. Let’s start with 3 of the most common
labels you’ll find on beauty products.
carried out by the beauty brand on a small number of participants – most reputable skincare brands would carry
out testing on a group of at least 30 participants. It tells you that the product is considered safe to use, but doesn’t
really say much about how effective the product actually is. A product might be clinically tested, but it doesn’t
guarantee that the results showed that the product will be beneficial.
Dermatologically Tested and Approved: Like the term ‘clinically tested’, the terms ‘dermatologist tested’ and
‘dermatologist approved’ simply means that a dermatologist was involved in the testing process. The ‘testing’ and
‘approval’ process refers more to a review of the clinical data and ingredients rather than a test of the product’s
effectiveness, so having this label isn’t a guarantee that the product will work wonders for you, but it tells you that
it is safe to use.
Hypoallergenic: You’re unlikely to come across the term ‘allergen–free’ in the UK as EU regulations do not allow the
use of the term. However, many products use the term ‘hypoallergenic’ to indicate that the ingredients in the
products produce fewer allergic reactions and that the products are free from 26 known allergens. It’s still always
recommended to do a patch test before using a new product, just in case you have a reaction.
When it comes to sun protection, the labeling criteria is much more regulated. To learn more about the labels on
sunscreen and how to stay protected, read allbeauty’s guide on Why SPF Matters And What You Need To Know.
Next, let’s take a look at some of the most common signs and symbols you’ll see on beauty products.
Organic: The term organic itself is not regulated, and even products with only a small percentage of organic
ingredients can use the term. However, if a product displays the ECOCERT logo, it means that over 95% of the
ingredients are organic, while the ECOCERT Natural logo means that at least 50% of the ingredients are organic
and natural. The COSMOS Organic and COSMOS Natural certifications offered by the Soil Association give similar
stamps of approval.
Cruelty Free: When you think of animal testing, images of cute, furry bunnies or sad–eyed beagles might be the
first things that spring to mind. Thankfully, the EU and UK Cosmetics Regulations don’t allow finished cosmetic
products or their ingredients to be tested on animals. However, some countries have a mandatory animal testing
policy. To make sure that the brand is not party to any form of animal testing anywhere in the world, look out for
the Leaping Bunny symbol or the PETA Cruelty Free logo.
Mobius Loop: You’ve probably seen this recycling symbol on household products as well as beauty products. Three
green arrows fold to form a loop to indicate that the packaging is recyclable. If the triangle is contained within a
circle and has a percentage inside it or next to it, it indicates that the packaging is made up of a certain percentage
of recycled material. Other numbers and letters associated with the symbol indicate the kind of material used in
the packaging to help with further recycling.
that the manufacturer of the product employs the services of a specialist company to recycle and recover
packaging waste. It doesn’t mean that the product itself is recyclable though.
The Hourglass: The hourglass symbol indicates that the product has a lifespan of less than 30 months. It is typically
followed by the words Best Before End, BBE, or Exp followed by a date.
Period After Opening (PAO): This symbol tells you how long the product is safe for use after opening. The symbol
consists of an open jar with the time period on it. If there is an ‘M’ after the number on the jar, that denotes months.
Estimated Sign (e): This symbol tells you the packaging contains the amount of product it’s supposed to. The letter
‘e’ is followed by the net quantity of the product in the container at the time of filling. This quantity is in grams for
solid products and in millilitres for liquid.
Flame: No doubt you can guess this one… a flame on the product packaging indicates that it contains flammable
ingredients and should be kept away from open flames. You’ll find this symbol on products like hairsprays, nail
polish removers, and deodorants.
Vegan: This symbol is pretty straightforward too. The Vegan Trademark is issued by the Vegan Society to show that
the product is free from any animal products. Vegan doesn’t necessarily mean cruelty–free, however – and vice
versa, so look out for both certifications if you want to take your Conscious Beauty buys to the next level.
From skincare to fragrance, shop the best of beauty today and show off the best you. Or, head to the allbeauty
blog for the latest tips, trends and inspiration.