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A little guide to learn more about the symbol on cosmetics packaging and labels


  • Barcode

Barcode is an identification system related to consumer goods used on a global level. 

You will find it on every product and it is composed by vertical lines, of different thickness and distance, and number at the end of the lines. The positioning of lines and number create a code that contains information related to the item. The first two/three number are related to the manufacturing country (i.e. from 80 to 83 represent Italy), the subsequent four or five number refer to the manufacturing company (Arco Cosmetici identifying numbers are 24908), the following five define the article (77040 is related to a product of dr kraut MILANO range) and the last number is for control and its calculated through an algorithm. 

  • QR Code (Quick Response Code)

It’s a code that can be scanned with any mobile device. It’s a simple and quick way to obtain product details, such as ingredients list, possible allergens contained in the cosmetic, it could link to an explicative video and other useful information.


  • Best Before

European Union cosmetic products must indicate expiry date when their shelf life is less than 30 months. The symbol used in an hourglass and on the side it’s indicated the date until the product can be used without risk to the health and in which the product maintains the same features from production

  • PAO – Period After Opening

The PAO indicates the useful lifetime of a cosmetic product after its package has been opened for the first time. It is depicted with an open cosmetics pot and it is used together with a written number of months (i.e. 3M mean 3 months). 

It is indicated on all cosmetic products that have a shelf life longer than 30 months from the date of production


  • Recycling symbol

It indicates that the packaging used was made from recyclable or recycled materials. Sometimes a percentage appears inside the triangle to indicate the percentage of recycled material.

  • RIC - Resin Identification Code

A series of symbols that identify, through numbers, the type of plastic used to pack the product.

01 - PET or PETE (Polyethylene terephthalate)

02 - HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

03 - PVC (Polyvinyl chloride)

04 - LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

05 - PP (Polypropylene)

06 - PS (Polystyrene or Polystyrene)

07 - O (All other plastics)

  • Recyclable aluminum

The icon indicates that the product package was made with recyclable aluminum. The package can be disposed of following the separate collection regulations in force in the country.

  • Packaging material

Indicates the code of the material used for packaging. This symbol is not mandatory, but it is still useful for properly recycle each component.

  • Contribution for recycling

The Green Dot is an icon that indicates that the manufacturer adheres to consortium that deal with the recovery and recycling of packaging waste.


Compliance with the European recommendation

Specific symbol for sunscreen, indicates that the product complies with the regulations expressed by the European Commission in Recommendation 2006/647 / EC on the efficacy of sunscreen products and related indications


  • Symbol of esteem

Usually positioned near the indication of capacity in package (for example, 500 ml), it indicates that the manufacturer has complied with the requirements established by the European Union as regards to the packaging of the product.

  • Instruction Sheet

The icon indicates that inside the product pack there is an instruction sheet which provides information related to the product, any contraindications or particular ways of usage. The symbol is usually added when it is not possible to report all the warnings or necessary information on the outer package of the cosmetic.

  • Do not disperse in the environment after use

The icon exhorts the consumer not to disperse the product in the environment after use