Symbols on cosmetic labels. Find out what they mean

When we buy a cosmetic, in most cases, we pay attention to its composition and price. But do we even bother to scan the symbols that labels feature? If we don’t do this, we make a mistake. Once we are accustomed with their meanings, we can make more conscious cosmetic decisions. Learn all the symbols imprinted on care and make-up products.

‘e’ sign

It’s an abbreviation of the word estimated and gives us information that the volume or mass of the product placed in the container isn’t set precisely. The truth is, sometimes it’s hard to measure the exact quantity that a particular jar or tube should house. Luckily, for us, consumers, this value is relatively small and stick to the rules imposed by law. To illustrate, in a jar that is supposed to contain 100 ml of a cosmetic, the standard deviation never exceeds 4,5 ml.

Product tested by…

… dermatologists, allergists, ophthalmologists. The cosmetics which don’t feature such marking aren’t cleared for sale. Conclusion? Such information simply has to be put somewhere on a product’s label. And what about hypoallergic cosmetics? Although this group of products was tested even more precisely than other cosmetics, it doesn’t mean that they won’t cause allergic reactions.

PAO sign

This abbreviation stands for Period After Opening. The small image of an opened jar with M letter near informs us how long we can safely use a particular product and how long all its ingredients work as they are supposed to. Apart from PAO sign, the great majority of products also feature a regular expiration date in the form of numerical notation.

Hand and Book

This image guides us to reach for a leaflet to find more information about the product. Why didn’t the producer include the information on the packaging? Simply, it was too small to feature such data. Unfortunately, not every cosmetic having this symbol goes with a leaflet. Where should we find additional information, then?

Triangles made of arrows and circle made of arrows

Arrows creating a triangle with two digits in the middle give us information on the material used for the packaging and whether it is suitable for recycling. When it comes to two arrows creating a circle, they mean that the producer covered the costs of restoring the materials used for manufacturing the packaging.


It’s a very important symbol for those who take care of natural environment and the good of animals. It states that a particular product wasn’t tested on animals. What’s important here, this bunny sign is slowly being withdrawn from being placed on packaging because running such tests in most countries in the world is forbidden by law.

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