What is INCI?
When it comes to understanding what makes a product work, checking out its ingredients list is essential. To be able to read the ingredients list, you first need to understand the language it's written in: INCI.
According to EC law, the ingredients list on every cosmetic product has to be written according to the INCI system. INCI, which stands for International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, is a worldwide system of names for cosmetic ingredients, used to ensure consistency in the names of ingredients used in cosmetics, helping consumers and the authorities have a clear idea of what exactly each product contains. For example, water is known as aqua, cocoa butter is known as theobroma cacao, while olive oil is known as olea europaea.
If you've heard for example, that mango is a great ingredient for the hair, or want a conditioner rich in shea butter or aloe, it's useful to know the names these ingredients go by on the back of a conditioner bottle...
INCI and natural extracts
With consumers increasingly interested in using products with natural extracts, most manufacturers have added natural imagery to their brands to enhance their appeal. Whether they actually contain the ingredients suggested by the pictures on the label, or just a synthetic fragrance which merely reminds the user of that ingredient, is another question altogether. Getting fluent in INCI will allow you to know for sure before you leave the store, so you can be sure of what your purchase actually contains.
Once you're in the know, if you pick up a conditioner by the name of "Tropical Mango Conditioner" for example, which smells like a mango, has a mango hue, and a picture of mangoes on the front, but does not say "Mangifera Indica" in the ingredients list, then you'll know this product doesn't actually contain any mango. While it might be a perfectly useful conditioner in its own right, it contains no mango at all, so you're unlikely to reap any of mango's specific benefits for the hair and scalp. To check if your chosen conditioner actually contains the natural ingredient it associates itself with, use the following table of popular natural extracts used in cosmetics.
NB: Given the abundance of different plant species and extraction methods, the list is not exhaustive but includes the INCI names of the most popular extracts of each ingredient.
DHA Hair Care Experts