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Here’s your guide to decoding skincare product labels

The leaping bunny and Mobius loop symbol actually mean something...

By Drishti Kapadia  April 15th, 2019

From steering product choices to clearing the conscience, the symbols on beauty labels have the answers, if you know how to read them. 


6- The little body butter like jar indicates the recommended use-by time for the product. It can be anywhere between 3 to 24 M, the ‘M’ being the month. Your time starts once you open the product, and it means the product either loses efficiency or becomes unsanitary after this time period.

2- Discarding your favourite lipstick because you don’t know the expiry date is heart breaking. Now you can know for sure; check any bottle for a batch number— it’s often a dotted alphanumeric code. Enter this on, and you’ll have the exact expiry date.

3- If you find yourself reusing your pretty lotion bottles and jars, you’re kind of doing what the Mobius loop symbol indicates: recycling. By itself the sign means the container is recyclable. The number denoted inside the loop refers to one of the seven types of plastics used to create containers—numbers 2, 4 and 5 are the only ones recommended for reuse.

7- When picking a sunscreen, don’t just look at the SPF, look out for UVA protection as well. When encircled, it means that UVA protection is at least one-third on the SPF value.

8- Often confused for the recycling sign, this dot signifies that the manufacturer is making a contribution to a recycling unit to process the empties. It does not mean that the packaging can be recycled.

4- When you see a hand pointing at a book, you do exactly what it says. Often found on the back of tiny bottles, the finger denotes you can peel away the sticker to reveal more information on ingredients and product usage.

5- Watch out for this symbol if you’re switching to an organic beauty routine. This symbol is carried by brands that are certified to be environmentally friendly. If accompanied by the word ‘organic’, then 95 per cent of the plant-based ingredients and 10 per cent of the total ingredients are organic. However, when it’s switched for ‘Natural’, then understand that at least 50 per cent of its plant-based ingredients and five per cent of the total ingredients are organic.

1- Thanks to ethical beauty lovers, this leaping bunny is now more commonly seen on several luxury and drugstore products. It implies that the ingredients or the final product were not tested on animals. A product can only license this badge once a non-profit organisation like PETA or the CCIC (Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics) has certified the company as cruelty-free.