Learn Labeling on Cosmetic Products: Start Buying More Consciously!

Since I started making conscious decisions at the time of buying cosmetics, I found myself e-mailing all these companies to ask different questions. I wanted to know if they tested their products on animals, if they used recycled packaging, if I could recycle the packaging, and if the product was organic or not, etc. Thankfully, I learned about different labels that cosmetics products have on the back. YAYYY!!! My life became so much easier now and I wanted to share this with you. You deserve peace of mind too. 😅 Now, all you have to do is keep reading, learn, and next time you are shopping for makeup or skin care products (or anything actually) check the back of the product and find out everything you wanted to know just by looking at these symbols:

PAO – Period After Opening Symbol

This symbol represents the time that you can use a cosmetic product after you opened it for the first time without causing you any harm. Usually, you can find a number next to a letter “M”, which represents the period of time in months. Products that have a shelf life of 30 months or more have this PAO symbol on them.


BBE – Best Before End Date Symbol

On the other hand, products with a shelf life of fewer than 30 months have the BBE symbol on them. This date will tell you when your cosmetic product is expired and you should NOT use it anymore.




The European Union (EU) has more strict regulations on these than the United States because the EU requires cosmetic products to include PAO or BBE symbols. However, in the United States, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has no regulations on this. So if the product was manufactured on the U.S. might not have these symbols and you should know some general rules, like:

  • Mascara and liquid eyeliner last between 3 to 6 months.
  • Liquid stuff like concealer, foundation, moisturizer, nail polish and lip liner can last one year or more.
  • Powders, such as blush, bronzer, eyeshadow last around 1 year and a half.
  • Lipstick and lip gloss can last 1.5 to 2 years.

You can also use CheckCosmetic.net to see if it’s safe to buy. Find the batch number at the bottom of the container, search it on the website, and find out if it’s still good for you to use.


The Universal Recycling Symbol

The Universal Recycling Symbol as the name says it, it represents it’s recycling characteristics. The symbol can vary different ways which represent different meanings. If the symbol has a number from 1 to 7 inside it, it represents the resin identification code (the type of resin used to make the plastic, to make it easier at the time of the recycling process). If the symbol is inside a solid circle, it means that the packaging was made from recycled material😍. Now, the symbol can also have a percentage symbol inside or next to it. This represents the percentage of the recycled material used to create the packaging.


The Green Dot Symbol

The Green Dot Symbol is used in the European Union. The symbol is used by industries who contribute to the cost of recovery and recycling. These manufacturers pay the green dot license fee to collect, sort, and recycle their packaging. This system was created to encourage manufacturers to reduce their packaging (the more packaging they use, the more they pay).


The Organic Seal

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) certifies products as organic if they follow a very strict production method. To get certified, organic products must have been:

  • Produced without excluded methods, such as genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.

  • Produced using allowed substances.

  • Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program-authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations.

If a product claims to be organic but does not have the USDA organic certification, this is considered a violation and the company is going to be fined for it.


The ECOCERT Symbol

Image result for ECOCERT SYMBOL

The ECOCERT symbol represents that at least 95% of its plant-based ingredients are natural or of natural origin and at least 5% to 10% of all its ingredients by weight are organic. 5% to 10% can seem like a small percentage but you have to take into account that most cosmetic products are made with water (water is 50% to 60% of all its ingredients on average) and water cannot be certified. So, the percentage is actually very high.


The Leaping Bunny Symbol

This is my favorite symbol because it’s so cute☺️ and I love its meaning too. This symbol is a gold-standard in cruelty-free certification. It means that the product was not tested on animals at ANY stage of the product development.


I think you are ready now to buy more consciously☺️ Obviously if you have more doubts about the products, I highly recommend you to annoy the companies by e-mailing them with tons of questions because why not? You have the right to know!!!

If you know about another common symbol found on cosmetics, please let me know in the comment section below. 😘


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