Beauty Symbols Decoded

Have you ever wondered what the 12M symbol on your cosmetics packaging means? And then realised you’ve been wrong your whole life. No, it doesn’t stand for 12 millilitres. Awks, right? Fret not, we’re not here to judge but to help. We’ve actually been there before too so we totally get it. This is your quick, succinct, go-to guide for beauty jargon decoded. Here are some of the most seen symbols on your favourite beauty packaging.

Expiration Date
The egg timer symbol with a date states the expiration date of the product. According to European legislation, cosmetics that have a lifespan of less than 30 months need to have this information. Usually most products can last way longer than this (if unopened), hence not seeing this symbol as often as you’d think.

Period After Opening
This little jar with a number tells you the length of time the product is good to use once opened. An M indicates the number of months and Y indicates years. The below example means good for 36 months once opened.

An E-Mark symbol, called the Estimated symbol is required if the manufacturer complies with the EU Directive 76/211/EEC. It confirms the average net quantity of the formula in the packaging. It’s usually in grams for solids and millilitres for liquids. Products need to have more than 5 g/ml to require this symbol.

Refer to Insert
If there isn’t enough space on the packaging to fit all the other details required by law you will find this symbol which states there should be additional information on an insert inside.

Leaping Bunny
The Leaping Bunny is an internationally recognised symbol guaranteeing customers that no new animal tests were used in the development of any product displaying it. The Leaping Bunny symbol means the company will agree to independent audits.

PETA Cruelty-free
PETA have two versions of their bunny, one that confirms the brand has verified that they and their suppliers do not carry out, commissions or pay for any tests on animals. The other is vegan too, and confirms the brands entire product line is free of animal-derived ingredients. A truly cruelty-free company.

Recycled Sign
This means the packaging can be recycled. Note this does not mean the packaging is made from recycled materials.

The Green Dot
This means that brands make a financial contribution to the sorting, recovery and recycling of packaging materials.