INCI Labelling Made Easier: General Rules


Many people are confused about INCI labelling requirements in Canada.  So here is a general breakdown of the rules for those that are a bit confused.



Colourants in cosmetics are to be listed by their colourant number. The terms oxide, ultramarine, and mica are not acceptable on labels in Canada when the colourant has an actual CI number. 


Health Canada says:  “Colouring agents should be listed as they are named in the INCI dictionary.  There are colouring agents that have INCI names in multiple formats (US Colourant names, EU colourant names, and Japan Colourant names).  In these cases, you are free to choose any of the names for use.  For example, the INCI dictionary lists CI 59040", “Green 8" or “Midori204" as acceptable INCI names for that ingredient.   However, this is not always the case, so you must consult the dictionary on a case by case basis for colourant agents. “ 


In regards to colourants Creations from Eden carries, you can find the colourant number under the "technical tab" for that colour. 


Essential Oils , Herbs and Botanicals

Essential oils and other botanical ingredients are to be listed as their latin name.  So Lavender essential oil would be listed as Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) oil.  Calendula Flowers would be listed as Calendula officinalis Flower.  All essential oils and botanicals that Creations from Eden sells have their latin or INCI name listed in the listing of the product.  This is technically the only way you know what plant you are actually purchasing, so it is very important that we have this information available to you.  In the case of proprietary essential oil blends that we do not know which latin names are in the blend, “parfum” is the correct INCI.  See below.


Fragrance Oils & Proprietary Essential Oil Blends

Fragrance oils, synthetic aromas and all blends, natural or not, where we do not know the exact latin name of the constituents used are to be labelled in Canada as “parfum”. 


Flavour oils

Flavour oils are to be denoted by the term "aroma".



The following Health Canada statement applies to the labelling of soap as per Health Canada's cosmetic committee:


"With respect to ingredient labelling of soap products, our cosmetics group indicated that it would be acceptable to use any of the following formats as long as the ingredients were in INCI format:
(a) the initial ingredients used in the soap making process,

(b) the final/remaining ingredients of the soap after the chemical reaction, or

(c) a combination of the two formats (ingredients before and after). "

The INCI’s for format (b) can be found here.


Items without an INCI:

Ingredients that do not have an INCI are labelled according to the following as per Health Canada:


As per the Cosmetic Regulations, section 21.2 (1) and (4) which state,

21.2 (1) Subject to subsection (4), a list of ingredients must appear on the outer label of a cosmetic, with each ingredient listed only by its INCI name.

(4) An ingredient that is included in the schedule may be listed either by its EU trivial name set out in column 1 of the schedule or by the appropriate English and French equivalents set out in columns 2 and 3.

The schedule referred to in (4) is at the end of the Cosmetic Regulations. Click  here for the link to this schedule.


A final word:

I often hear people saying "well Company ABC does it, they must be right!"...  the answer is no... not necessarily.  Just because a company is large does not mean they are being compliant.  The reasons for this can be many, but examples are:

  1. They don't know any better (I have seen this with larger companies in Alberta, but they have been caught too).
  2. They have lawyers to take care of their "problems".
  3. They have money to pay the lawyers to take care of their "problems"
  4. The fines they face are worth being non-compliant.
  5. Other reasons.

So, rather than copy the big guys, get to know the rules and be compliant.  In the end, you'll sleep better at night.

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