INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient)

INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient)

What is INCI?

INCI names (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) are systematic names internationally recognized to identify cosmetic ingredients. They are developed by the International Nomenclature Committee (INC) and published by the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) in the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook, available electronically as wINCI.

Oversight for the INCI program is provided by PCPC as part of its mission to support the identification of the composition of personal care products, and publication of this information in a worldwide science-based Dictionary. PCPC is committed to ensuring that the Dictionary provides the world community with accurate, transparent, and harmonized nomenclature. By working closely with its international sister trade associations, and with other organizations around the world, PCPC strives to develop INCI names that accommodate differing labeling approaches described in national laws and regulations.


There are many benefits to a uniform system of labeling names for cosmetic ingredients. Dermatologists and others in the medical community are ensured an orderly dissemination of scientific information, which helps to identify agents responsible for adverse reactions. Scientists are ensured that information from scientific and other technical publications will be referenced by a uniform name; and that multiple names for the same material will not lead to confusion, misidentification, or the loss of essential information. It also enables the cosmetic industry to track the safety and the regulatory status of ingredients efficiently on a global basis, enhancing its ability to market safe products in compliance with various national regulations. And finally, transparency is provided to consumers as ingredients are identified by a single labeling name regardless of the national origin of the product.

What INCI is not?

The designation of an INCI name for a cosmetic ingredient is an essential part of ingredient identification; however, just because an ingredient has an INCI name does not mean that the ingredient has been approved for cosmetics. The assignment of an INCI name to an ingredient also does not imply that the ingredient is safe, or that its use in a cosmetic product complies with the laws and regulations of the United States or other global regions. The safety and fitness of use for an ingredient, along with regulatory considerations, is carefully evaluated by the manufacturer as part of the development process before the product is marketed.