Cosmetic Symbols and What They Really Mean.

I’ve been purging my makeup and while reading the back of the packages I began thinking what do all these symbols even mean?  I’m fairly familiar with a few of them but there are others that had me stumped. I figured I would do the research and let you know in my own words what these symbols may mean.


Cruelty FreeThere are three distinct symbols/ logos associated with authentic cruelty-free products. Cruelty-free products are products not tested on animals or manufactured in a way that is harmful to animals. There are three authentic cruelty-free symbols. Buyers should be aware some companies place bunny logos on their products and they are not authentically cruelty-free. The symbols to look for are listed below.

PAO ( Period After Opening)

PAO - Period After Opening Symbol
PAO – Period After Opening Symbol

This is a tiny symbol of an open jar on most of your cosmetics and it is perhaps the most important. The PAO or period after opening is the allotted time the product remain usable after opening. Most items will give you the exact period you have until the product becomes not safe for usage. You, the consumer would need to pay attention to when you initially open the product since it doesn’t give an exact expiry date.

Refer To Insert

Natoyaista, make up instructions,
Refer To Insert


A hand pointing to text in a book means ” Refer To Insert” There  is more instructions and information in regards to the product which likely cannot fit on the label. Therefore you should read the little insert/pamphlet the products comes with. You typically find this on small make up products.

Best Before End Of Date

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Best Before End Of Date

Best Before End  Of Date (BBE): This symbolizes how long you have to use a product before it’s expired. The hourglass symbol is usually followed by a specific date. Symbolizing the product is not good for safe usage past this date. This symbol is typically found on natural skincare products.


concert, organic
Eco Cert Organic Cosmetics


There are two versions of the Ecocert symbol. Ecocert Organic and Ecocert Natural. Ecocert Organic is commonly used by products which are at least 95% plant based and at least 10 % of all its ingredients are  organic which is calculated by weight. Ecocert Natural is used when the product is 50% plant based and at least 5% of all its ingredients are organic. The Ecocert Organic symbol is issued through a  nongovernmental certification program that evaluates the organic content of cosmetic products.


makeup Symbols blog_002

The e-mark is used in  the United Kingdom and European Union. It’s a lowercase “e” which states the net quantity of a product at the time of packing. Based on the formula it’s shown a little differently. For Liquids and powders it’s shown in (ml) and for other cosmetics it’s shown in (g). Free samples and small packaged makeup typically doesn’t have an e-mark.


Green Dot

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Green Dot

Another European cosmetic symbol. The Green Dot shows that the manufacturer of the product pays a recycling organization to oversee the management of their packaging waste. European countries have a legal responsibility to recycle packaging waste. Most companies outsource this to recycling organizations.


There you have it guys, those are just a few of the symbols I typically see on my make up products. I often wonder what they mean?  I’m sure you all do as well. Let me know if you found this helpful in any way.








13 responses to “Cosmetic Symbols and What They Really Mean.”

  1. I love it xxxxxx love how you are using your art self to explain ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


  2. Very useful post, I know a lot of people that are not sure what these symbols mean 🙂


  3. Thank you for listing them all out! I knew a few symbols but not all of them!


  4. It’s great to see them all together. I get the bunny ones mixed up so this is especially helpful for that. To be honest I don’t always follow the time with powder products since I think they last a lot longer than shown.


  5. This is a great list! It’s not always easy to keep track of how long things have been open, and I started keeping a sharpie in my bathroom to write the open date somewhere on the packaging, particularly of things that I know I won’t use daily.


  6. This is such a great list! I didn’t know half of these symbols, so I’m glad to learn something new.


  7. This was so informative! Thank you for sharing.


  8. Miranda Mendelson Avatar
    Miranda Mendelson

    This is a great resource! Thanks for sharing!


  9. Yes, there are a lot of images and symbols being used. As a consumer, it’s up to us to do the research


  10. What a nice post to reference!


  11. That’s really helpful to navigate confusing packaging labels!


  12. This was so helpful and informative!


  13. Oh wow!!! I never knew that one symbol was a use by info. I learned so much here, thank you so much!


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