8 Most Common Symbols on Cosmetic Packaging

Reading cosmetic labels can be confusing at times, especially when a lot of symbols are used. I never really bothered to understand the symbols truly until I had to design and write the content for skincare packages at my previous job. Turns out, it’s quite handy to really understand what it all means for your benefit and protection. So, I listed down the 8 most common symbols that you will find on the back of a personal care product, whether it be make up, skincare or body care products.



1. Period-after-opening

How long the product will be good for / you can use after you’ve first opened it. Once you open a product for the first time, you will expose the contents to air and bacteria which reduces the lifetime of a product. It is required by the EU law to have this on products that will expire after 30 months of the production date. Any products with an expiration date before 30 months must have a date of minimum durability.  The EU also requires this symbol to be printed on both the container and outer packaging if applicable.


2. Date of Minimum Durability

The expiration date of products regardless of when you have opened it. It is required by the EU law to have this on all products that expire before 30 months of production.

3. Batch number

All factories that produce any kind of product will have a batch number as required by EU law. There is no standardised format for batch numbers. If you’re wondering when a product was made, you can call the company and give them the batch number that’s written on your product. They should be able to tell you exactly when the product was made. Also, if something ever happens to a batch once it has already been released to the public, they know which batch to call back and consumers can easily check.

You can also check the manufacturing date on checkcosmetic with the batch number. 


4. Estimated sign / “e-mark certification”

The average quantity of what is in your product as required by EU law and must be stated in metric measurements, e.g. millilitres or grams.
A company is not allowed to have this sign when the average quantity is lower or greater than 9% of the contents on 50g/50 ml products or 1.5% on contents of 1kg / 1 litre or more. Basically, with this sign, you are guaranteed to have the amount stated on the product.


5. Refer to insert

At times the packaging can be too small to have all the required information on the packaging itself. Companies will then use this symbol to inform the consumer that they must refer to a leaflet or brochure in the box or somewhere else on the packaging for more information on the product.


6. Green Dot

A licensed symbol that companies must pay a fee for. The fee is paid to a national packaging recovery organisation in one of the EU countries to show that the organisation gives financial contributions to the recycling system. It is required only in a few countries in Europe, however many companies have adopted this symbol. It is by no means that the packaging is made from recyclable material or that the packaging can be recycled.



7. Recycling Symbol

An internationally recognised recycling symbol that shows that a product can be recycled. There may be numbers in them that refer to the type of plastic used.


8. Forests Stewardship council - FSC label

The FSC is an organisation that is dedicated to responsible management of forests around the world. They created a labelling system that can be found on many different types of packaging. For more information regarding their recyclable certifications, you can type in the code seen on the package on the FSC website.



I hope this helped you guys understand the back of the labels a bit more and let me know what other type of information confuses you on the back of the labels which I can help to clarify.