The INCI List


In this episode Alessandra De Gregorio from certified organic beauty brand Terre Verdi talks to Karen from Blomma Beauty about organic beauty. 

Find out:

- The difference between organic and certified organic beauty products

- What to spot on the product labels to know you're buying organic 

- What's involved in the certification process

- The benefits of buying certified organic beauty products

- What the organic percentages on your beauty products really mean

And welcome to you another episode ofthe conscious collective, a podcast started by the founders of safe and skin,rabbi and Sammer, and myself, Karen. I'm the founder of Blonde Beauty,and we started this podcast to shine a light on our favorite topics fromthe conscious beauty and wellbeing industries. In this episode, we're debunking one ofthe essential components of understanding what's in our beauty products, the inky list.It's an acronym that's banning about a lot, so we wanted to delve deeper intowhat it is and how it will help us when shopping the beauty products. Hello, rabbi, and summer like their own. Rabbi, Hi summer, but when I was first getting into natural, organic beauty, I didn'treally know even what inky stood for. What I didn't even know Inky,and I remember in the early days of actually just starting the brand, Iactually used to pronounce it IMCI and people used to give me very free funnylooks. Thank you. What did she talk talking about? But yes,it's it's an I did actually of a mouthful. So it's the international nomenclatureof kind of smeetic ingredients. I hope I pronouncer. Very well said,Karen. I reason believe attempted that and know went toture is this fancy wayof saying basically a system of namel things. It's use a lot in science.So maybe me as a retailer not so familiar use formulators, maybe morefamiliar better. Yeah, well, it's essentially, I guess the best thingabout the inky list is the standardization. Like you said, it just transcendslanguage barriers, so whereby all brands have to itemize every single ingredient in theirformulations by a standard set of names, usually Latin derived names or, Iguess, scientific names. So it's great to identify it. So if you'resetting across the EU, everybody's got the same set of ingredient names. Soit's easiificure out. I think the plant ingredients it's the Latin name and thenfor spastic ingredients as the chemical name, but even the last name natural productscan sound chemical. Yeah, so I think maybe touch upon that a littlebit later, but it's it's a bit I have a mind field when youfirst start reading the path of products as it is, and I guess it'sone of those things because I remember when we first launched and obviously we area brand that only uses natural ingredients and obviously we would have listed the inkynames at the back of our packaging. And I remember a lot of consumersin the early days that we were meeting would sort of say, Oh,you're saying natural, but you've got what is all the what are all theseproducts and the back of your and obviously they were consumers driving towards trying tomake a more conscious beauty choice, but weren't aware of, obviously, someof the regulation surrounding that. So it's about trying to educate people that yes, you know these words sound very synthetic, but they're just Latin named of avery natural ingredient or a very natural component. Yeah, I think aswell. I mean we obviously talked about this quite a lot being in thebusiness, but I didn't know when I first started looking at it's listed highestconcentration to lowest concentration of ingredients, and so I thing that kind of guidedme when switching to natural organic beauty was looking at the first five ingredients.I read that somewhere. Whether that's a hard and bath rule, but forme it really helped is to look at the first five and then you knowwhat those key ingredients are in there. Is that how you guys approached formulating, knowing that the strongest ingredients in the top five, or do you thinkabout it in a different way? No,...

...we definitely do. So when weactually create our formulas and we present our formulas to a safety assessor,obviously they're the first ones that are going to point out will actually, thisis in this percentage, this is in this percentage. And what a lotof people don't realize, and I think I think more people are becoming awarenow, is one of the things we often used to get told was,oh, there's not much swelling your products or there's not much fravorites coming through. Actually, we've you've got. This is also an issue on the inkylist, quite rightly so, that we have to remain within certain percentages ofthese of these items and they are they are listed there not only for transparencybut actually safety as well. Yeah, so when we so safety as aumst so when we formulate, what we put in as the top is reallyto ensure our product is not only a fantastic quality, but it's also itsefficacy is utmost, and then also the way it works, just just kindof making sure it does what it says on the team. Yeah, butI think just to clarify that a bit further, just from the reading Ihad done around the inkies, is you obviously have that as your ethos tohave safe formulations that are, you know, ae requirement be safety assessed. Andbut if you're maybe in another country where the rules aren't quite bricked onmatic regulations, the Inky List won't actually tell you the safety of the ingredient. It literally just is a system for telling you those ingredients you know globallyrecognized. Way. Is Why don't I mean I don't think necessarily that ourinky list tells you the safety of ingredient. Side that's so, for example,many essential oils which are listed below one percent or indeed other ingredients willnot necessarily have to be listed in any particular order. Now in order soyou know, for us as a brand it sold, it's our obligation tobe transparent about those things. So in many ways we need to present thatinformation as extra on our packaging or are labeling or any other medium that webasically put out there which reflects what we as a brand are. I thinkthat for listeners. Is really important to know is that, whilst the inkysfantastic for knowing the ingredients, and that's often where people start when they're switchingto conscious beauty. Yeah, check the ingredients. You also need to runthat in parallel with understanding the brand, the ethics behind the brand, howthat's made, how it's formulated. So I mean you guys are quite transparentabout all of that, which is fantastic. A retail I've always say just askquestions of the brand or who have made like asked us on our website. finitely if you have, because it's a fantastic resource, but it doesn'tpaint the whole picture. No, it diver and again there are ways aroundit as well. So, for example, what we came across was obviously wedon't use any synthetic fragrance in any of our formulations. They're all essentialoil blends that we've especially sort of blend it ourselves. But what we alsocame across was that you can actually in a lot of black brands, youknow, there's the term fragrance and par farm that you will not sometimes won'toften, you will find in a lot of mainstream products at the bottom ofthe inky list or somewhere middle of the road on the inky list, andthat's usually something that can mean one of two things. Either it's a closelyguarded secret, and it could be something as simple as a signature blend ofessential oils that the brand has spent a lot of time and money developing andthey want to keep it as a closely...

...guarded secret because it's there bespoke scent, or it could mean a whole host of other issues, like it isa synthetic fragrant fragrance and there are synthetic components that comprise that fragrance, andthat's when these allergies and allergens are more of an issue, when they're hidingunder a term like fragrance or par farm because you can have unidentified components thatcan cause all sorts of health issues that aren't being disclosed, and I've beenhidden under this umbrella term. I think, to go back to the natural sideof things, what you mentioned, the fatnet. They do it.They list par firm or fragrance to sort of hide their special resipe, ifyou like. I didn't actually know that for quite some time and I wasactually speaking with brands and I really like RUNAC everathy themize. I just can'tget on board with the fact that you say part from because I'd always beentaught that, like you said, the synthetic ones and it can be upto like four hundred ingredients in this parfum. Yeah, and you don't know whatthey are. And and then she had, you know, educated meand told me about how it's. She and she even revealed to me everysingle sunch blend. But she's like for competitors, for my customers, Idon't want to reveal it because that's the secret to the brand, I meanthe brands. It's not amazing and it was rightly repressive. But yeah,it was an education for me because I'd always felt I have quite a minimalistapproach. I like very simple formulations, not too many ingredients, and sohalf I'm a fragrance. Always terrified me and I because, yeah, youjust don't know the number of ingredients within that yeah, words, which isquite very actually, it's absolutely and I mean I guess it's one of thosethings that we as a brand made of conscious decision not to do the samething, because we have actually our essential oil blends have been very have beenespecially blended on our behalf. So we've literally gone to an aromatherapist blending sortof place somewhere north where we sat down and we actually work with them tocreate our bespoke blends. And again we had that same option, didn't wesummer? Do you want to list it as part farm or do you wantto list it as individual components? And we actually it would have been easierfor us to have listed it as part from but we made a very consciousdecision to actually list them individually because we wanted to be as transparent as possible. We did not want to hide anything from our consumers. We wanted tosay, yet, these are the blends, this is what's in your blend.We're not hiding that, even though I remember initially we mean our peoplewho we will working with the blending company that we were working with did actuallysuggest just put it down as part farm. You invested so much in creating theseblends, it makes sense for you to just, you know, takeownership of that. But that was something that simmer and I decided. Knowit's goes against our brands ethos and we want to be very transparent in termsof what's in there and actually, I think what people don't realize is ifyou've ever blended your own essential oils, it's a very, very difficult toget the scent down to a tea. So even if your individual components arelisted, neither in any order, it's going to be very, very difficultto it's the very main different grades of essential oil and my goodness they allsmell so different. So, yeah, good luck if you want to tryit, but let us know if you got in secret of the case.I mean, look, there is a there is a there's also a massivestigma attached to the word puff Um.

Yeah, and I think our industryhas tried, whether you're conscious or not, to just move away from that.So so now for the you to kind of put this to the blanket. Okay on. Oh, yeah, you know, you can write puffUm. It's very, very it's not very satisfactory, to be quite honest, because it's almost like all the hard work, all the groundwork to walkmoving towards that transparency, moving towards being honest, this is almost kind ofbeing washed away. Robber, you said it was harder work and lists outyour formulation and the ink worth rather than these pafrom but actually so that theconsumer, Oh, absolutely easier, absolutely because they know exact and then alsohelps to identify at the specific Alligence, and I know we do have tolist the allergens that sort of naturally occur in a lot of these essential oilsat the in your inky list as well. But it just gives people a lotmore transparency to be able to make informed decisions because ultimately they are yourconsumers, they are the ones who are purchasing and investing in your product,so they have the right to know exactly what's in there. And it alsoreally is quite nice in terms of it just shows people that all your consumerthat you've got to what's in your product. Have you know, the the rangeof ingredients in your products have not just been, you know, randomlyput together, they've been thought about. You know, you've actually spent alot of time, and summer does our formulating it for us and she spendsa vast amount of time, it's ridiculous amount of time, sitting there formulatingand not all the formulations make that into grade. where, but whereby wego? Yet that's the one we're going to go with. It's a reallylong process, so to be transparent and say, yeah, we've these arethe ingredients we've, you know, worked so hard and trialed and tested thatwe've now decided to put in this end product. Is there for a purposeand you can see it late, you know, it's transparent for you,the consumer to see. Yeah, talking and seeing it. They people thatand maybe listening that don't know about the inkiness. Is the first time they'rehearing about it. Where do we find it on a products? Right,so you literally is like at the back of your product. You should haveit. It's it will be in the form of an ingredients list. Basically, like you said, it's listed in order of percentage, so you havethe largest percentage right at the top and it will go down from that toso you can see the first five ingredients will constitute the large just amount ofingredient, with the largest makeup of last just proportion of the makeup of thatproduct. And it is essentially just that. It's an ingredient list with all thethe inky sort of standardized names for the ingredients that are in the formulation. Yeah, I like according to sorry, sorry, some are you going?Sorry, you know. So the advice we were given by our safetyas it was that the inkulus or the ingredients has to actually be on theproduct so that it's there in front of the consumer all the time. Tothink it one of the most I always think about it in the store.It's what you take away with you. Yes, some brands have plain jars. You can have it on a leaflet. That that put. That must gowith you out of the store. Now I'm getting better at this,but it's very difficult, as some selling products, to just have it onthat one form of yes, so I really like to see it where ifthere's an outer box, it's on the outer box. If it's on ina jar, it's also on the jar.

If it has to be in aleaf I know some higher end brands also include the leaflets. That's great, but I don't think person from a personal respective, that can be theonly form of list because I leave very easy to forget and if you aretrying the product for the first time, you get at home and there's maybea reaction, you can't then very blaster. Yeah, because what it is that'smade you absolutely because leaf it's other things that you end up throwing away. You don't really keep these things with you, especially if you're here,it's and even the outer box that gets thrown away as well. So itis literally the product that you get left with. So it's handy to havethat available at all times. Absolutely without it, I think with a lotof small brands it's quite difficult as well. And, Robbie, I think wewent through this. It's also in a it's an issue of respectics aswell. So we chose we had, oh my God, when we wereredesigning our packaging this time last year, we had through so many different possibilitieswhere should put this information. We put that information and we did consider puttingit on the boxes, but then obviously we found out no, it's better, you know, put on the jars. But there's there's a lot of informationthat goes within KY lists. Obviously, if you've got a very, verylong one, you've got to really place it well on your product packaging, and your product packaging is a big part of what you're doing, youknow, and getting that right is so important for a lot of brands,as is obviously having your inky list. They're so yeah, so I justputting that in this that we obviously, if we'd we could have put iton a leaflet. But it's the cost thing for a lot of brands.And there was also the wastage is. Well, yeah, why have anadditional sort of thing that needs to be recycled and printed? You know,from A, I guess, a consumption and an environmental angle, it wasan ideal. So it wasn't. So that's one more thing you have tosort of Fak over resource that you have to use, which, yeah,and I mean I guess even when you have, say, products like holes, which don't have, you know, hundreds and hundreds of ingredients in them, obviously when you look at the names they are other long. Yeah,yeah, so even trying to squeeze that on, say, a little jar, it's not the easiest of tasks. And I mean the other thing thata lot of brands do is they will have the Latin names and then they'llalso have the common name next to it, which is in a little bit moreplain, understandable English. I remember of the time my head if we'vedone that, actually know. So what? We just couldn't fit it on ourlegs. So what we decided to do, as we had the inkylist of obviously the Latin names on the packaging, but then we've got themin English on the website. That's so we disclose everything. So then wehave them in brackets in the website, because you have a lot more spacein a website and you are confined with the size of your boxes or yourlabels, with how much you can fit in. Yes, so yeah,I think that consumers it's being less easiest to check the ingredients on the productif it matches your ethos, if there's any allergens in there that or thingsyou're sensitive to. But I don't think it tells you the quality necessarily ofthe Adieno says rose it. It could be, you know, organically farmedrose hip or it could be really underfed superfine rose hit. Yeah, andso that's, I think, where we say just delve deeper into the brand. For me as a retailer, I use the inky list every time weget a new brand or a new product on board. So all the brandswill send us their full inky list and I check through every ingredient so there'sno ingredients that we don't allow in our...

...products and not for that and thenI'll back and I'll create a little bit more sometimes about the sourcing of theingredient as well. And you know, for example, calm oil, it'squite a hot, yeah, hopgated topic whether it's, you know, sustainablysource. So just look for reassurance from the brand that that there they're sourcingin an ethical way. And if not, you know, there's some brands thatwe don't stock the full range because there's particular products that we don't agreewith, a one particular ingredient and and that's not to say that as awhole, as a brand, they're not good and effective products, but it'sjust that it doesn't quite match what we think of as a good, consciousproduct. But you know, we'll always work with people to make sure thatthey it's a long process, you know, like the zero ways movement, justdoing one small sitting will add up to a big thing. So it'snot about saying well, we won't stop your brand full stop. It's aboutsaying okay, well then, let's work together. When do you think you'renot formulate with this ingredient? Is there a change that you're going to make? Will kind of pray those questions a bit more so for me as aretailer, being ky list is really important. We list it on our website.You can click through on every ingredients to see what it is. Abit more information and we always, even if the brand doesn't listen plaining list, we list in plain English as well. So that's how I use it.You guys, as a brand, apart from including it in your productslabel, how how do you use the Inky list? As it different fromthat or no? I think you're absolutely spot on, but I think there'sa lot of owners on brand to supplement the information, and that again comesit. You can't put all of that information, obviously, on your productpackaging. So you're supporting material needs to be pretty good and especially if youwant to be a wellknown brand that's wellknown not just for its quality but forits transparency. And then you're going to have to do that and we've supplementedthat. What we rubbing with our website like and what we also try anddo is put out sort of social media posts, which also di vindication aboutwhere we sort our products how they kind of work, because you're right,there's there's nothing on an inky list that will tell you the source or originsand the quality and the grade of the ingredients. So, for example,something as simple as sheer butter. The price of of sourcing that as araw ingredient varies drastically depending on the grade and how refined it is. Andyou know whether it's organic or not. So it's you know, so youit's again, the onus is on the brand to decide what is important tothem and their ethos and, I think, the ethics as well of the product. So our gone oil is a perfect a viel of that. Youknow, our Galley is so widely available, so widely available. But of course, what we're realizing now, and Robbie, you know this from yourvisit to Morocco, don't you? Yeah, so, I mean, I guessit's a case of it's become like this hot new beauty in ingredient andwe've I mean we went down to Morocco to try and source our argon oiland sort of go to the farms and meet the people behind it, andwe discovered that not all our gon oil is actually created equally. It's veryand it's not only the quality of it but it's the ethics behind it.So, for example, in Morocco there is actually no government relate legislation orregulation in cooperatives and a lot of argonois banded around saying, Oh, it'sfrom a woman's cooperative. Now here in the UK you hear that word andyou thinking, right, women's cooperative. They're getting a share of the profit, they own part of the business,... know, so they are directlybenefiting from US buying it. But when you go out there to these socalled cooperatives, you actually discovered that's not the case. Essentially, there isa fat Arab sitting in an office high up somewhere, filling and lining hispockets with overpriced argonal that the consumers are buying, and the women who arehandmilling the knot aren't being paid a fair wage and aren't by no means gettinga share of the profit at all. Yeah, it's because it's not aregulated industry out there. Obviously you looking at a developing country where there isn'tthese things in place. So, for example, we looked really we searchedhard to find our supplier who actually was very transparent from day one. Thefirst thing the guy said to us was I am not a woman's Cooperative,and I thought, Oh wow, that's refreshing, after having visited so manyplaces, for you to actually tell me you're not a coop, cooperative,and he said, I mean he employs six hundred Berber women pays him avery fair wage. We were able to verify that. And then he hasamazing facilities, healthcare, childcare, you know, little classrooms on site sothe women can work and their dependence, their children are in a safe environmentand being looked after. And he is so expensive, but it's worth that. And then, in addition, obviously he certified organic. So he hadall those boxes ticked from a Western angle. When you delve deeper to say,okay, so we can actually say, yes, our are gon a listicleorigin, it's organic and it is definitely ethically sourced, whereas is justso much vagueness out there with other other oils. Yeah, and misinformation.Yeah, and how we not have the opportunity to actually go there? Wewouldn't have known. Otherwise it would have fun make the effort. They don'tdo that the heting process. They just find a supplier by a products andtrasts as it is. Yeah, I think it's hard. It's really hardfor smaller brands when you're starting out. Current it's I mean there is somuch choice, so much choice that there. It's very, very difficult to knowunless you have that sort of initial finance to invest to be able togo to have conversations. It's time consuming, it's money, it's all it is. And I mean as a brand we've not been able to take thatkind of research for every single ingredient in our product because it's just financially notviable. We were just fortunate that we could do it for one particular ingredient. But yeah, obviously it' small independent brands. It's not an easy thingto do and you there has to be an element of trust. You haveto be able to trust your supplier and you can gage that from a reportin terms of trying to understand who is, you know, being sincere. Imean I think just even that one example from that one ingredient, theargument oil tells you that the inky list is just one part of the story. Nick to be able to have that initial part of delving deeper into theproduct, but it's just one facet. So I hope that that the episodehas been informative but also gives you insight into how you can be a moreconscious consumer by understanding the brand, going for transparent brands, doing more weakand asking those questions, using the inky list as your kind of first pieceof evidence into whether that product is consciously produced or not. Absolutely yeah,so I think we'll round it off there...

...for this episode and thank you meand thank you sim you to next time to get by.

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