What Do Symbols On Beauty Packagings Mean?

Writer: Farah Karim

With the rise of concerns regarding our beauty products, people are now spending a little more time checking out the packaging of their cosmetics. While you might be paying more attention to the ingredients list, do you know what the symbols on your beauty products actually mean?

The little illustrations often mean pretty important things, like how long you should keep a product before throwing it out, whether it’s cruelty-free or whether it’s recyclable. If you think you’ll have trouble remembering the symbols and what they mean, there aren’t that many of them. In fact, there are only six that you’ll really need to remember!

1. PAO (Period After Opening)

Source: janeiredale

PAO stands for Period After Opening, and while it may seem like it should’ve been obvious, none of us actually noticed. The letter M stands for Months and if you see the product with the symbol reading 6M, it means that it’ll only last six months after you’ve opened it.

2. The Green Dot

Source: Altstoff Recycling Austria

Not necessarily green, this arrow symbol shows that the company is part of a European-wide recycling scheme and it abides by the packaging waste rules. Green Dot’s licensing company says “All companies in Europe have a legal obligation to recycle and recover packaging waste, usually via a specialist company,”.

3. The Leaping Bunny

Source: Vitacost

One of the most easily recognisable symbols is The Leaping Bunny symbol and was created when the eight national protection groups banded together to form the Coalition of Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). It means that no new animal tests have been used in the development of the product.

4. The Mobius Loop

Source: Vector Stock

The Mobius Loop means that the product’s packaging can be recycled, but not necessarily that it has been made from recycled material itself. Sometimes the symbol will appear with a number inside it, representing the percentage of the packaging that comes from recycled materials.

5. The E Mark

Source: Vector Stock

It is a legal requirement to state the net contents of a cosmetic product on the packaging so that consumers know how much they’re getting. Cosmetics Europe explains that the “E” mark must be shown “if the product is filled according to the ‘average fill system’ which is defined in weights and measures legislation”.

6 The Hourglass

Source: Vector Stock

Not to be confused with the PAO symbol, the Hourglass tells you how long you can keep the product whether it has been opened or not. If it says that the product will only last for 30 months, then it will last for 30 months after the date that it has been manufactured.

Maybe next time you check one of your beauty products, you might even find out it was expired a few months ago. Yikes! At least now you’ll know when to use your product instead of letting it sit on your table for months on end thinking that it’s still good as new.