What do all the symbols on beauty products actually mean?

Hello everyone!

Do you pay attention to the symbols on your beauty products?  I certainly do!  It is vital to know the signs used in cosmetic packaging when choosing a product.  Those symbols are meant to inform the customer.

Keep reading to find out more about the 12 most common symbols...

PAO (Period after opening)
The little container with a number is the recommended use-by time after opening the product.  Most of them will be 6 or 12 "m" (months).  

Estimated symbol
This symbol is used to specify that the product is packed using "average fill system".  This only means you will get "X" amount of product, shown in grams or millilitres.

UVA symbol
The UVA symbol means that the product contains the minimum recommended level of ultraviolet protection.

Leaping Bunny
The jumping bunny signifies a product that is cruelty-free.  Both the product and the ingredients will not have been tested on animals.  So always look out for this if you only shop for vegan products.

Hands with booklet
This icon means there is a leaflet attached to the product, that will tell you more in-depth about the product warnings and conditions of use.  

Green Dot
It signifies that the business pays to recover and recycle the product.  

What do all the symbols on beauty products actually mean?

PETA bunny
Another icon to show that the product is cruelty-free and not tested on an animal at any stage.

Certified vegan
The item contains no animal products.

The item should not be used close to an open fire nor should it be exposed to high temperature.

Certified organic (Bio)
The product contains only organically produced ingredients.

Folded arrows
It is, of course, the universal sign for recycling.  If the symbol is stand alone, it means the packaging is recyclable.  But if it has a percentage next to it, this indicates how much of the packaging is made from recycled content.

The eco-friendly stamp means that the formula will be at least 95% made from natural ingredients and if accompanied by the phrase ‘Organic Cosmetic’, it means that 95% of the plant-based ingredients come from organic farming.  If it says ‘Natural Cosmetic’, this means that only 50% of its plant-based ingredients come from organic farming.

I shop for vegan, cruelty-free products, preferably organic!  What symbols do you look for in your beauty products? 


I'm a vegan with a passion for sustainability and clean, cruelty-free products. I mainly write lifestyle, wellness and self-care articles. Since I'm a true crime enthusiast, sometimes I also write about true crime and post videos on my two YouTube channels.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! If you ask a question I will answer it asap. – Cosette

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