Editor’s note: “Building on Water” is the theme of the 25th IFSCC Conference, September 24–26, 2007, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Most cosmetic formulations are built on water, but there are many additional ingredients, all of which are named according to a standard nomenclature discussed in this article by Eric Abrutyn, Kao Brands Company and INCI chair. It seemed appropriate to welcome the conference attendees from many nations and languages with this article about the international language of cosmetic ingredients.
In the early 1970s, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) initiated a program for standardizing nomenclature to identify and define commonly used cosmetic ingredients. Today this is known as the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient or INCI nomenclature. The names for the ingredients were compiled as monographs and ultimately published in a dictionary, then called the CTFA Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary. The first edition, describing almost 2000 ingredients in a single volume, was published in 1973 and submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a way to support the newly enacted US Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). This self-regulated industry voluntary approach was accepted by the FDA, and thus cited as the second source for names for ingredient declaration; the original 20 ingredients named by FPLA were eventually incorporated in the second edition of the Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary.
Much has transpired since that first edition. The name of the book morphed into an International Dictionary and Handbook recognized all over the world as a compendium of approved cosmetic ingredient nomenclature. The compendium grew to more than 14,000 ingredients, more than 57,000 trade names, requiring four books two inches thick to hold all the information. The European Union and Japan eventually recognized the CTFA INCI nomenclature for the declaration of ingredients. This dictionary/handbook is also viewed as an official regulatory compendium in most countries: Argentina, Canada, China, Columbia, Israel, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Bulgaria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Lithuania, Malaysia, The Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, and others.