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Product Packaging Symbols And Their Meaning

April 22, 2015

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Have you ever read a product beyond its description, ingredients list and usage guide, and really sat down to see what all was on the packaging? If you have than undoubtedly you’ve spotted a symbol or image here and there that are stamped on without any real explanation of what they stand for. Well, they actually do stand for something and below are the most common used symbols you will find on beauty packaging with explanations of what they mean.


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Period after opening – The jar and lid symbol is perhaps one of the most significant labels on product packaging because it gives you the expiration date. 6M – 6 months, 12M = 12 months, etc. is the shelf-life after you open the product.

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Leaping bunny – That cute little hopping bunny means no animals were harmed or killed throughout the entire process of making said product. In short, cruelty-free.

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Recycle triangle – The circle of pointing arrows defines that the product package is approved for recycling after use. Sometimes this symbol comes with a percentage, the percentage simply means that the manufacturer utilized that amount of post-consumer waste during the making.

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Flammable – Eerily similar to the fire emoticon, this symbol is not meant to let someone know they’re on fire because they’re hot or on a roll, it literally means you or some thing will be on fire if you expose this product to high heat or near actual flames.

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Alphabetized skin types – Most commonly found on Mario Badescu’s products, alphabetized skin type labels that project letters like: S,D,O,C, simply stands for what it is, skin types. ALL = All skin types; S = Sensitive; D = Dry; O = Oily; C = Combination.

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Green dot – Closely resembling a ying/yang symbol, the intertwined arrows’s politically correct name is ‘green dot’ and companies have to pay to have this symbol on their packaging which in return supports recycling efforts through the fee they have to pay for said symbol.

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Refer to insert – That little hand pointing inside a book is the ‘refer to insert’ symbol which dictates that what the company outlined as a description on the outside of the product is not all of the information that needs to be disclosed. For the latter the company will include a separate pamphlet that contains all of the information about the product you just purchased. Yeah, that little booklet you never read, that’s it.

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The Natural Seal – A product that has the NPA certified seal has passed the scrutinizing guidelines by the Natural Product Association in order to make the statement that their products are in fact natural. Since the word natural or organic gets tossed around like a cigarette among teens, the NPA audits companies before certifying their products as natural. Natural by NPA standards means a product should be made up of only, or at least almost only, natural ingredients and be manufactured accordingly to maintain ingredient purity. Should contain no ingredients that could potentially put human health at risk. Should conclude no animal testing, and should use biodegradable ingredients to fabricate its packaging.

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Bunny stop sign – Another symbol used to assure no bunnies were harmed or killed during the making of that product.

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Estimated symbol – That large E you sometimes see on product packaging can commonly be found on products produced in the EU, the E ensures that the product content amount is correct. So 12 fl oz means it is actually 12 fluid ounces without getting jipped. Unlike a bag of potato chips that is never really full but still requires for you to pay full price, the E makes sure you do get what you pay for.

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