The packaging of our makeup is prime real estate. The brand wants you to know the product name. Consumer regulations require product sizes to be printed on most makeup products. Sometimes ingredients are listed. Because some of our products are uber small, the makeup industry has adopted symbols on packaging like many other industries to convey important messages while saving on unnecessary package costs.
The most important symbol for me is the jar with open lid. There is usually a number and an M or Y (months or years) inside the jar. Sometimes it is outside the jar to the side or under it. This symbol is the manufacturer’s suggested expiration time once the product has been opened. It is important to note that the manufacturer’s suggested time is not always what is considered “industry expert” guidelines. Most people have heard that mascaras should be thrown out after 3 months. In the pictures above, the black circle is a mascara claiming to have a 6 month expiration date instead.
The leaping bunny or the words “cruelty free” is a claim from the manufacturer that the product is not tested on animals. There is a lot of debate on this topic. One one hand, manufacturers can lie. If they are caught, there is hell to pay for false advertisement of course. On the other hand, there isn’t a consensus on what cruelty free actually means. Does that mean nothing in the product is tested on animals ever? Does it mean nothing in the product is tested on animals except in certain circumstances out of the brand’s control (usually meaning the brand is being sold in China where the Chinese government does the testing, not the brand)? Does that mean the product has nothing to do with animals at all (vegan)? If in doubt, research the company rather than rely on the symbol on the container.
Recycling symbols are quite funny to me when found on product containers. This means the manufacturer participates in a recycling program for their products. I’m all for saving the environment through recycling. But there is no indication on the product how to recycle it. The websites of the brands in my collection with this symbol have no mention of a recycling program. Do I mail it somewhere? Do I take it to my local recycling center? What is up with this? The black circle has the recycling symbol most Americans should be familiar with. The brown circle has a recycling symbol (the middle one) that is a bit different. I actually thought it was a Firefox symbol at first glance. It is called a “green dot” that is an indication that the manufacturer pays a fee for recycling their products. I assume that is meant to reassure consumers that the brand is doing their part in managing waste beyond just using recyclable packaging.
The hand pointing at a book (first symbol in this picture) means the product contains an insert. Sometimes these are loose in the packaging. Other times, you have to peel back the label to find the information it is telling you is there. This “other information” can be directions for use, medical warnings, ingredient lists, and so on. I never peel the labels up though because once they are peeled back, they never reattach like they are supposed to. Drives me crazy.
One symbol I have not seen is the flames. I read about it and I’m super glad I’ve never seen it. The fire symbol means that product is flammable. This is usually on nail products. Since I don’t paint my own nails, it stands to reason that I wouldn’t have seen it before. As a smoker, I certainly don’t want anything flammable on my face.
There are tons of other symbols found on products. Some refer to natural or organic ingredients, federal regulations in certain areas, and where the product should be used (like an eye says it is eye makeup or a face means it is face makeup, etc.). The more you know… 😀
Have you figured out how to recycle your makeup containers?