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Comparatively Speaking: Naming Cosmetic Raw Materials
By: Anthony J. O'Lenick, Jr., Siltech LLC
Posted: April 27, 2010
page 3 of 3
Ten years ago, the abbreviation FD&C appeared in front of many chemical colorants. Today, however, the INCI dictionary has adopted a simplified method for naming colors: the color is simply listed followed by a number (e.g., Yellow 5). This does not tell the chemist anything about the chemical composition but the structure of it can be found in the INCI dictionary. An alternative naming system is the EU one, in which each colorant is assigned a 5-digit chemical index (CI) number. For example, Yellow 5 in the EU is called CI 19140.
There are many other naming rules that are learned over time; here are just a few.
1. Water is called water, not deionized, purified or anything else—just water.
2. Fragrance is called fragrance no matter what compounds are used to make it. This is changing, but for now it’s correct.
3. Botanicals use the Latin name of the plant or part plus the term extract. So, if an ingredient taken from the leaf of a lemon is used, the ingredient is called Citrus medica limonum (lemon) leaf extract.
The naming conventions of cosmetic raw materials share some characteristics with the IUPAC system taught in organic chemistry courses. However, there are many differences and for some things, it is impossible to determine the chemical structure from just the name. For more information, the best bet is for chemists to access their company's or city's library to take a look at the latest version of the INCI dictionary. (Editor's note: In addition, there are online INCI and trade name directories available, such as the free Cosmetic Bench Reference (CBR), which provide some if not all of this information via the Internet.)