Do Cosmetic Companies Have To List All Ingredients

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Do you bother with the ingredients of the food you’re eating? Most of the time, people don’t, but in some cases, people are highly cautious about their diet and health, especially if they suffer from allergies or illnesses. We are careful about our eating habits; hence we ensure that the food we eat doesn’t contain any potentially harmful ingredient or an ingredient that could trigger weight gain. But what about ingredients going on our face and getting absorbed in the skin? Should we worry about that as well? We should and we should know all about do cosmetics companies have to list all ingredients?

It’s a matter of dispute that most people often sideline because they underestimate what a harmful cosmetic product could do to their face. Considering cosmetic products could be potentially harmful to our skin, a question emerges, ‘do cosmetic companies have to list ingredients?’ Many makeup products have their ingredients listed on the back, but it is only the case with some of them. Let’s find out in this article if it’s essential to list the ingredients of all products or not!

Stay tuned because you’re up for a lot of exciting knowledge that will come in handy in your next shopping spree!

I participate in affiliate programs and may earn a small commission if items are purchased through links on the site. 

Do Cosmetic Companies Have To List Ingredients?

As per FDA laws, cosmetic companies must list ingredients under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. The FDA legally requires cosmetic companies to list ingredients on all consumer products.

Generally, there is an order in which the ingredients must be listed. The ingredients that make up most of the formula are to be listed at the very top, and the rest of them are listed in descending order according to their percentage in the final formula.

Moreover, all the ingredients must be listed by their commonly used names to make it easier for consumers to understand them.

Cosmetics Companies Do Not Have To List Trade Secrets

However, there is one exception to the FDA requirements: companies are not required to list ingredients that are considered trade secrets. Trade secrets are formulas that could be stolen or copied and then used to create the same product. For example, if a company knows all of the ingredients in a specific fragrance that a competing company uses, it could easily recreate that fragrance, essentially making the same product and stealing customers. Flavors are often considered a trade secret as well. 

Unfortunately, this has led to many companies hiding toxic ingredients on makeup labels. For example, a company must include fragrance on the ingredient label, but they do not have to include all of the specific ingredients that are used to create the fragrance. The same applies to certain formulas that are used for flavoring, such as lip gloss flavors. 

California is fighting to change that. They’ve passed what is called Proposition 65, which requires that companies using any of at least 25 ingredients, or any ingredient added on the list of toxic ingredients, disclose that information. According to, “The California Flavor and Fragrance Right to Know Act will change that. Under this new law, if a company uses any ingredient on any of 27 hazardous chemicals lists (including the entire Proposition 65 list), the company must disclose it in a public database. So, while companies will still be able to use these nasty chemicals, they will no longer be able to hide them from shoppers.”

Individuals in other states that don’t have this law aren’t out of luck. You can quickly look up ingredients on the Proposition 65 website, which can tell you the name, and why they are on the list. Some companies, such as Ulta, must also inform customers that there is a warning for the product in California. If you’re shopping online, you can keep an eye out for that warning label, even if you live in Ohio. 

Does The FDA Regulate Cosmetic Ingredients?

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A myth continuously circulates that the FDA doesn’t regulate personal care products like nail polish or eyeshadow, but that’s not entirely true. While companies may skate around regulations by labeling something as the fragrance on the ingredient list, they are still required to ensure that beauty products are safe for consumers. 

The FDA states that all cosmetics must:

  • Not be mislabelled
  • Be safe for the intended use (for example, if an ingredient is approved for use around the lips but not around the eyes, it cannot be used for eyeshadow)
  • Have packaging that is not deceptive

The myth has a small amount of truth to it, though. While the FDA regulates portions of cosmetic ingredients, they aren’t very strict about their regulations. Color additives must be approved for the intended use, such as around the eyes. According to the FDA, cosmetic companies also cannot use any ingredient that is either restricted or not allowed. Outside of those guidelines, the FDA says that cosmetic companies are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe for consumers. However, companies are not allowed to misbrand cosmetics. 

Benefits Of Listing Ingredients On Cosmetic Products

Naturally, most cosmetic products contain key ingredients like water, emulsifier, preservatives, thickeners, moisturizers, colors, and fragrances. But is it all? Are these ingredients safe for us and our skin?

Always look out for these ingredients that could be potentially dangerous for your skin:

  • Parabens
  • Contaminated Talc
  • Coal Tar
  • Mineral oils
  • Arsenic
  • Heavy metals
  • Formaldehyde
  • Benzene
  • Artificial fragrances
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Aluminum Laureth Sulphate
  • Polysorbates
  • EDTA based agents
  • Cadmium and its compounds
  • PEG Compounds
  • DEA related products

Here are some of the benefits of listing ingredients on makeup products:

  • Watch out for harmful ingredients in low-quality products that trigger infertility and hormonal imbalance and may cause cancer.
  • Research states that 1 out of 8 ingredients used in cosmetic items are industrial chemicals, according to this article. Henceforth, watching for such ingredients is essential to prevent significant harm.
  • People with sensitive skin must check all ingredients to lessen the chances of rosacea, eczema, and other allergies.
  • Warn buyers who are allergic to certain ingredients.
  • Listed ingredients add credibility to a product.
  • It helps in weeding out products with less natural ingredients.
  • It helps in spotting allergens

What Is The Ingredient List Order?

The ingredients on the makeup product are listed in order of prominence with the highest to lowest percentage. The first five to six ingredients usually make up most of the product, whereas the rest are in small quantities.

If a label claims to use all-natural ingredients, you can scan them and check them yourself.

Moreover, blended ingredients can’t be listed as a single combined ingredient. It’s a rule! All components must be listed separately based on their percentage.

How To Read The Ingredients Of A Cosmetic Product?

Buyers complain that despite their efforts, they cannot read the ingredients of cosmetic products. It’s understandable because they’re written in a tiny font, and secondly, everything seems so confusing on the label that it’s hard for buyers to spare a moment to scan it properly.

What Does An Ingredient List Say?

Understanding an ingredient list and what it says is critical to understanding exactly what is in your cosmetic products. While an ingredient list does list the ingredients, there are a few more things you need to understand regarding whether cosmetics companies are mandated to list all ingredients and what to make of the many things on the ingredient list. 

Ingredient Names

Every cosmetic company must list all individual ingredients on the product label. Most cosmetics companies also have an ingredient list on a website if they sell products online. However, this is simply the name of ingredients and incidental ingredients. 

List Order

When reading the ingredients of cosmetics products, it’s essential to pay attention to the order they are listed on the package. Ingredients with a concentration above 1% are listed in descending order. Typically, ingredients with higher concentrations are listed at the top of the ingredient list. 

Fragrance and Flavor

Even though the FDA doesn’t require fragrance and flavor to be listed on the product because it can reveal trade secrets, it’s preferable to list it just in case the user is allergic to that fragrance/flavor.

Companies tend to do different things about ingredients that they consider secret ingredients. For example, a company might simply list “fragrance” on the packaging instead of listing all the fragrance ingredients used in the formula. Another company might list a specific ingredient known to cause an allergic reaction but not the rest of the ingredients used. 


Different symbols mention whether the product is organic or not. Some other symbols state the product isn’t manufactured using genetic engineering or transgenic technology. Eco-cert and gluten-free are other symbols we often have to decode ourselves, but they must be on the products. 

Some makeup products have symbols suggesting that the product is 100% free of animal testing. PETA and Leaping Bunny are two companies that can certify a company as cruelty-free, which means that the company does not test any products or ingredients on animals. They do not sell products where animal testing is required by law. Both organizations have their symbols to tell customers that products are cruelty-free. 

Environment Responsibility Symbols

Few makeup products have a green dot, symbolizing that they recover, sort, and recycle their packaging. The Forest Stewardship Council symbol suggests that the item is manufactured from reliable resources.

Other Things To Keep In Mind When Reading A Cosmetic Label

Cosmetic labels can be hard to decipher. It’s important to remember that cosmetic companies do not require warning labels on products in most areas. That means toxic chemicals that can quickly threaten human health or public health can be hidden in beauty products. Ingredients known to cause birth defects or are endocrine disruptors, which means that it disrupts your hormones, are not required to have a warning alongside them by government agencies. Here are a few other things to remember when reading labels on your favorite cosmetics. 

  1. Look for the symbols that are important for you on the front and back. For example, if you want a gluten-free or cruelty-free cosmetic product, look for USDA certification.
  2. Check the number of ingredients. A longer list of ingredients means that you’re more likely to have an allergic reaction if you have several sensitivities. 
  3. Look for reputable cosmetic products because not all natural ingredients are suitable for the skin, and not all synthetic ingredients are harmful.

Things To Consider When Buying Beauty Products

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Reading a cosmetics label, and knowing whether companies are required to list all ingredients on labels, is a great start. However, you need to know more than whether there’s salicylic acid in your skincare products. There are quite a few things to remember when buying beauty products. 

Skin Type

Understand your skin type. All makeup and skin care products aren’t made for all skin types. If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, make your choice after thorough research.


It is very important to read the ingredients of your product. Make sure they’re certified and suitable for your skin. The product shouldn’t contain excess harmful ingredients or those you’re allergic to. It’s better to look for products with fewer ingredients.

Patch Test

It’s hard to determine whether a product is good for us. And we can’t check that after buying the whole product, and if it turns out bad, it’d be a massive waste of money. Therefore, a patch test on your arm or hand is best. As a result, you won’t be left with a red, flaky, swollen face.

Expert Opinion

If you’re unsure about buying a cosmetic product, seek expert advice. Though friends and family are always the first choices, don’t forget that they have different skin textures. If you’re extremely cautious about your skin and already suffering from skin problems, it’s best to consult a dermatologist who will guide you to apply what products on the face and whatnot.

Common Ingredients Found In Beauty Products


Tocopherol is commonly known as vitamin E. It’s an antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals and helps retain skin moisture. It’s found in bath products, skin care products, shampoos, conditioners, and makeup products.

Titanium Dioxide

It’s an oxide of titanium that acts as a preservative and sunscreen.

Sodium Lauryl Sulphate

It’s a foaming/cleaning agent used in toothpaste, cleansers, cleaning products, and shampoo.


It’s a colorless, flammable gas used in nail paints, nail hardeners, shampoo, makeup, and toiletries.


It’s a chemical UV filter in sunblocks, foundations, and sunscreens.


It is an emulsifier and emollient, especially in hair products, conditioners, and deep hair treatments.


This fatty acid helps to lubricate the skin. It is used in skincare products, shampoo, deodorant, and after-shaves.


It’s an emulsifier derived from animal and plant fats. It is used in moisturizers, hands, body, and soaps.

Can I Make My Own Cosmetic Products?

Yes! You can make your cosmetic product if you’re scared of using artificially manufactured ones in the market. Though it won’t be entirely the same and may have different effects, using your cosmetic product can have its benefits.

  • You’d know about the ingredients used in the beauty products hence no fear or second thoughts about using it.
  • Homemade beauty products help us save a considerable sum of money. Make your own if you’re running short on cash.
  • Creating your facial toner, mascaras, night creams, and dark circle serums could be much fun. The freedom to choose ingredients and make something out o your own space empowers women.
  • You can’t beat nature. A homemade product is way ahead of the ones in the market who are there for God knows how long.
  • Creating cosmetic products at home is a brilliant way to save the environment.

Recommended Products

If you’re concerned about toxic ingredients or companies misusing the term “fragrance,” that’s understandable. However, quite a few companies go above and beyond to be transparent on labels, make sustainable products, and use naturally sourced ingredients. You’ll discover that pigments are made from plants and plenty of lip products on the market with natural flavors. 

Makeup Eraser

If you’re searching for sustainable products, Makeup Eraser is a must-have. One towel lasts 3-5 years, according to the company. These little miracles are designed to remove all your makeup, including waterproof makeup, with a towel and water. 

Check it out here!

Stem Cellular CC Cream By Juice Beauty ($39.50)

This 12-in-1 color-correcting cream is made with natural ingredients from a company that strives to provide organic skincare and natural cosmetics. The packaging is sustainable and recyclable. It’s vegan, cruelty-free, and reef safe! If you’re hunting for safer cosmetics and skincare, this brand is worth checking out!

Shop Juice Beauty here!


Ultimately, mentioning ingredients in all cosmetic products is essential as they are beneficial in many ways. Whether you’re a regular makeup user, you must know whether a particular ingredient or makeup product is good for you.

Knowing what ingredient you’re putting on your face helps with avoiding allergies. Sometimes, we may not realize it, but the ingredient lists can help us evade a huge skin allergy or harmful reaction. They help us determine whether a product will work for our skin. Perhaps, they may not guarantee that a product will be good for our skin, but they take us one step closer to making a better choice.

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