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Ask the Experts

What Are Those Symbols on the Back of Beauty Products?

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We’re all pretty familiar with the front of our skin care products, but the back is more of a mystery. Trying to decipher the symbols on the back of beauty products can be a challenge. Often small and near the bottom of the package, these symbols should not be overlooked as they convey important information about the product. Read on to become familiar with these symbols and what they mean:

Period after opening

Period after opening

What it looks like: A jar with an open lid and a number and letter inside

What it means: This open jar logo indicates how long a product can be used after opening. The number and letter are important to note when opening the product. If the symbol says 12M, it means the product should be tossed out a year after opening.

More information

More information symbol

What it looks like: A hand with a book

What it means: The hand pointing to the book indicates that there is more information about the product included in the packaging, often in an insert or on the opposite side of a peel-up sticker. This symbol is usually included when there is not enough room to print all the product information in one place.


Flammable symbol

What it looks like: Fire over a horizontal line

What it means: This symbol indicates that the product is flammable and should not come in contact with flames. It is most often seen on hair products and nail polish. Products with this symbol should be stored in a cool, dry place without direct sunlight.

Recyclable packaging

Recyclable packaging symbol

What it looks like: Three arrows that form a triangle

What it means: The recycle logo is used to show that the container the product came in is recyclable. If there is a percentage listed in the middle, this indicates how much of the product packaging was made with post-consumer waste. The recycling symbol is also used in combination with a number in the middle and letters underneath, which help determine if the material can be recycled. These are called resin identification symbols and identify the type of plastic a product contains.

Leaping Bunny

Leaping Bunny symbol

What it looks like: A bunny leaping through a circle with two stars

What it means: Led by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, the Leaping Bunny program recognizes products that meet an international cruelty-free standard. It signifies that no animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories or suppliers.

Estimated sign

Estimated sign symbol

What it looks like: A lowercase “e” symbol

What it means: The estimated sign is used in Europe to indicate the product meets the European standard for estimated volume. If you see this symbol, it means the amount of product listed on the label is estimated to be as accurate as possible. Basically, if the bottle says 100mL, the manufacturer certifies that there is 100mL in the bottle (within a margin for error).

The Green Dot

The Green Dot symbol

What it looks like: Two arrows, usually in black and white, arranged like yin and yang

What it means: In European countries, this symbol lets the consumer know that the manufacturer of the product contributes to the cost of recovery and recycling of the packaging. This system encourages manufacturers to cut down on packaging, but the Green Dot symbol doesn’t necessarily mean that the package is completely recyclable.

Is there a symbol on one of your skin care products that you don’t understand? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Kristen is a copy editor for LovelySkin who loves catching up on the latest in skin care and beauty trends. Her favorite things include cats, concerts and Harry Potter.

Other Posts by Kristen


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