Here’s What The Symbols On Your Beauty Products Mean

With so many beauty brands hitting the shelf, it becomes more important than ever to know more about a product beyond whats inside it. While you might be seeing products make certain claims and with various mysterious symbols on the packaging, chances are you might not actually know what they mean. For your own good, you should know what these different symbols mean. Here’s what the mysterious symbols on your beauty products mean: 



The POA symbol or the period after opening symbol refers to the shelf life of the product after opening. The symbol is a jar with the lid off, and the number of months usually 12, 24, 30 or 36 indicate for how many months can the product be considered safe to use after opening. We all have eye shadow palettes that we’ve used once in a blue moon or a lip balm that somewhere got lost in our living room of a bag that decides to make a sudden appearance. Before you dive to use them in sheer excitement do check the POA symbol to make sure you aren’t using an expired product, else this excitement will turn into an allergy real quick.



While the POA symbol indicates for how long the product can be considered good to use from the date of opening, the hourglass figure indicates the shelf life of the product from the date of manufacturing irrespective of the fact if you have opened the product or not. This symbol is not as widely used by beauty brands as the POA symbol and is majorly printed on beauty products that have one-time use like single sheet masks.BEST-BEFORE-SYMBOL




Even though it is called the green dot, it may or may not actually be green in colour on the packaging and could just be a figure with circular arrows. This symbol does not necessarily mean that the product packaging has been made from recycled material or the product packaging can be recycled in the foreseeable future, rather it means that the manufacturer or the brand has made significant financial contributions to the cost of recovery and recycling of packaging in Europe.



The Mobius logo is another logo that indicates if the packaging – both the container and the outer packaging can be recycled. It sometimes has a number in the middle of the three arrows to indicate if the packaging has been made from recycled ingredients and what percentage of the packaging has been made of recycled materials. It’s rare to catch this number on the packaging on most cosmetics and skincare packaging unless a brand is actively sustainable and environmentally friendly.



If you see this symbol on your skincare, makeup, haircare, body products and especially fragrances it means that you can either recycle this container as a DIY project or if you plan to dispose of it then you must do so as per the glass disposing of guidelines.


Most beauty products are made of plastic right from the container, to the applicator and even the lamination on the outer carton. However, not every plastic can be recycled the same way and just one wrong item could potentially ruin a batch during the recycling process. Some products also use a variety of plastic to make one packaging and thus must be sorted according to the number that is indicated between the three arrows that signifies how much plastic resin was used to make this packaging. Numbers range from 1-7 to indicate resin usage.



The ‘e‘ mark is usually displayed next to the product weightage. And that is exactly what it is, the estimated (keyword being estimated) weight of the product. It indicates that the product meets the European packaging requirements. So next time you buy foundations, blushes or any beauty product except that tools like blushes etc lookout for this symbol to know how much product are you paying for.




ECOCERT certified is considered the gold standard when it comes to natural and organic beauty products. Be it skincare, makeup, haircare or body care products, if a product has been ECOCERT certified it means that has a minimum of 95% of all plant-based ingredients in the formula and a minimum of 10% of all ingredients by weight must come from organic farming. It is also guaranteed that these natural ingredients in the formula have been derived using environmentally friendly and socially conscious practices.



Animal testing is appalling but what is even more inconsiderate is using the logos to depict that the product has not been tested on animals when in fact it has been tested. Being a brand that is cruelty-free has become a norm that consumers expect out of a beauty brand and that’s a lot of beauty companies are also rampantly using it without being certified by one of the only three organizations in the world that issue this certification, namely – PETA, Leaping Bunny and CCF Rabbit. The best way to check if your product has not been tested on animals is by looking for one of these three logos and then obviously confirm it by doing some online digging. It’s also important to know that having one of these logos only indicates that the product itself has not been tested on animals, in no way does it signify if the manufacturing or sourcing process was didn’t indulge in any cruelty towards animals.



When a cosmetic product claims that is it ‘Hypoallergenic’ it means that the product is likely to cause less allergic reactions than other products as it has fewer irritating substances called ‘allergens’. However, since its almost impossible for anyone to guarantee that a certain product won’t cause an allergic reaction, always patch test any new product and especially skincare and body products before you decide to make it a part of your everyday beauty routine.


Just like your vegan diet, for a beauty product to be considered vegan it must not have any ingredients that have been derived from animals at all.Whether its gelatin derived from animal fat or by-products like beeswax or milk or even honey. If your product does have ingredients that are not plant-derived then they are vegetarian and not vegan. So the next time if you are confused about whether a certain product is vegan or vegetarian, look at the ingredients lists and if it has an ingredient that you wouldn’t include in your vegan diet consider the product not to be vegan either.


As difficult as it may be to pronounce, it’s actually one of the easiest labels to understand. When a product says it’s non-comedogenic, it basically means it won’t block or clog your pores. Blocked or clogged pores are the cause of many skincare concerns like acne, pimples and blackheads, so its always best to use products that are non-comedogenic to avoid these nasty skin eruptions.


The term ‘GMO’ stands for Genetically Modified Organism. A GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. For years we have refrained from food products that have GMO, and now many want to refrain from its usage in cosmetics too.Use of GMOs leads to the creation of ‘GMO toxic’ substances in your skincare and makeup products. From the presence of cornstarch in your shadow that was genetically modified from crops to vitamin E in your moisturizer that was modified from soya beans, the use of GMO ingredients is rampant. Since there is no organization standardizing its usage, there is no logo or certification per se but those brands who are GMO-free are likely to claim it.


The MADE SAFE (Made With Safe Ingredients) seal literally means that a product is made with safe ingredients, without toxic chemicals known to harm your health. MADE SAFE™ Certified products are made without known behavioural toxins, carcinogens, developmental toxins, endocrine disruptors, fire retardants, GMOs, heavy metals, neurotoxins, pesticides, reproductive toxins, toxic solvents, or harmful VOCs. In short, products that are MADE SAFE certified are absolutely safe to use.


You might have seen this logo come up a lot lately. The Environment Working Group or EWG certification means that the product doesn’t use over 750+ ingredients that the EWG considers unsafe. You can read the full list of ingredients that EWG considers unacceptable for the safety of your health and also refer to their website Skin Deep to check if your favourite beauty product is EWG certified.


When a product is halal certified, it indicates that the product has been manufactured, produced, and composed of ingredients that are “permissible” under Islamic law. In other words, there are no ingredients in the product that are considered ‘forbidden’ or ‘haram’, like any pork, by-products from animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, blood, alcohol, or carnivorous animals.

Are there any other certifications, symbols or claims you think the global beauty community should know of? Do Share in the comments below.

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