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There are so many symbols on your products–I bet many of them look familiar to you.  But do you have any idea what they mean? There are so many it can be confusing, but many of them convey very important information! From skin care, body products, makeup, and even shampoo, many boxes, bottles, and jars don one or more of these symbols. Some are on inner packaging (the product itself) and others are on outer packing (the box the product comes in).

The Period After Opening (PAO) symbol is commonly found on packages of creamy or liquid cosmetics formulations. It indicates how long the product is safe for use after opening. “12M” in this example means that the product will be good for 12 months after opening. The quantity is typically in “M” for months, and the number of months can vary. If you know you’ve bought it before that time frame or you can’t honestly remember when the last time you used the product was, odds are you should toss it! In the future, you could write the date it was opened on the bottom of the jar using a permanent marker. If your product does not carry this symbol it may simply have a stamp saying something like “EXPIRES 10/30/2013”. I know from experience how tough it can be to throw out expired products- especially when they’re expensive–but the fact is that the ingredients are no longer stable or the ingredients are breaking down by the time indicated. This makes the product less effective, and potentially unsafe since it can easily harbor bacteria. Sunscreens are especially important to throw out after the time indicated because  the SPF may not be consistent with its labeling if the ingredients have begun to break down. If the product smells rancid, has turned a different color, or has changed texture–it’s safest just to get rid of it. You can help your products last longer by keeping them out of direct sunlight, or extreme temperature changes.  This symbol is found on products by Darphin, Ilona, Natura Bisse, it cosmetics, T Le Clerc, Paul & Joe, Jessica by Jessana, and Revitalash (to name just a few) all of which, we carry at Facade.

The Estimated Sign symbol appears next to the mass or volume of a product on its packaging. It certifies that the actual contents of the package comply with specific criteria for estimation (basically, it promises that it has as much of the product in the container as it says it does). This is also on many products including Darphin, Ilona, Natura Bisse, Paul & Joe, Classified Cosmetics ERA Spray, and T Le Clerc.

The Refer to Insert symbol means that additional information is included in a separate leaflet or insert in the packaging. The box, bottle, or jar, may not have had enough room to print thorough instructions or precautions.  This can be found on products by Darphin, Natura Bisse, Paul & Joe, and Revitalash, for example. It’s likely worth your while to read carefully any information included with skin care to make sure it’s used properly.

The Green Dot symbol  lets consumers know that the manufacturer of the product contributes to the cost of recovery and recycling.  This can be with household waste collected by the authorities, or in containers in public places such as parks and outside supermarkets. The system is financed by a green dot license fee paid by the producers of the products. Fees vary by country and are based on the material used in packaging (eg paper, plastic, metal, wood, cardboard, etc). It began in Germany, and now is extended to many parts of Europe. Essentially–the system encourages manufacturers to cut down on packaging as this saves them the cost of license fees.  It is one of the most commonly seen symbols on cosmetic packaging and is often confused with the recycling symbol–it does NOT, however mean that the package is fully recyclable. It appears on products like Darphin, Natura Bisse, Jessica, Ilona, Classified Cosmetics, and T Le Clerc.

The Ecocert symbol indicates that the product or product manufacturer is certified by Ecocert regarding their practices in relation to organic, fair trade, and sustainable development efforts. Darphin’s Aromatic Care or Aromatic Elixirs sport this symbol.

The Forest Stewardship Council (or FSC) has a few different On-product Labels, each meaning different things-all promoting the responsible management of the world’s forests. Darphin’s newest outer packaging bears the “Mixed Sources” symbol. Click on the link above to view the symbol and learn more about their standards.

There are also various “cruelty free logos” out there, including the The Not Tested on Animals logo is supported by Choose Cruelty Free (CCF), the Leaping Bunny symbol supported by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC), and the Cruelty Free logo supported by PETA. (it cosmetics sports the cruelty free logo on all of their products- BYEBYE Under-Eye, BYEBYE Pores, BYEBYE lid lines, etc).

Keep in mind that many companies do not use animal testing for their products or ingredients, or may use organic ingredients–but acquiring these certifications takes a lot of time and money–which ultimately raises the cost of the product.

Also important– the recycling symbol! This symbol is typically imprinted into the (typically plastic) container the product comes in, or may be printed on the outer (paper or cardboard) packaging. The recycle logo will have a number in the center. Different cities accept different types of plastic and your recycling center may not accept them all. The City of Houston, however DOES accept almost all plastics, and if recycling isn’t picked up where you live, there are several drop off centers locally.

There are many symbols out there. These are just several of those most commonly found–especially in our store. There are also symbols for products that are highly flammable, are vegan, are organic, or aerosols that do not emit CFC’s. Many of these SAY exactly that. You’ll start noticing these symbols EVERYWHERE now!

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