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Cosmetics sold in Canada must list their ingredients

Starting November 16, all cosmetics sold in Canada must list their ingredients -- something that's already required by law in the United States and Europe.

Even if the product is tiny, the manufacturer must either list the ingredients on the package or on a tag, tape or card attached to the container.

Products regulated as food, drugs or natural health products are excluded from these labelling requirements.

The ingredients won't be listed in English. They will use a technical language called the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients, which is based on Latin.

Judging by the sample provided on the Health Canada website (deep in the section for the industry), it will take consumers a while to familiarize themselves with the terms. It looks like Latin to me.

The only translation I could find on the Internet was on a site for people making homemade soaps. It gave the INCI names for many natural products. For example, beeswax will be listed as cera alba and vitamin E would be Tocopherol. Others, like cetyl alcohol, use the same name in INCI, but what is cetyl alcohol?

Since homemade soaps rarely use chemicals, they weren't listed on this site.

On the other hand, products from other countries use the same system, so it doesn't matter what the language of origin is -- the label will be the same.