Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Symbols On Your Products

Ever look on the back of your make up and beauty products and wonder what the hell all those pictures and symbols and numbers mean? Well I can tell you!

Lets start with the most popular, MAC Batch Codes.

There's either a stamp or an embossed type stamp on the bottom/back of your MAC products. I've noticed there aren't any on my pro products, but they might be on the boxes.

First there's a letter.  That's the batch order. A means the first batch, B means the second, C means the third, and so on.

The second is the month of production. 1 = January, 2 = February, 3 = March, 4 = April, 5 = May, 6 = June, 7 = July, 8 = August, 9 = September, A = October, B = November, C = December.  I'm not sure why they start with numbers, maybe they forgot there was 12 months in a year...

The third is the year of production. Sticking to just the last digit of the year, so if you have one with 0, I sure hope it was made in 2010, and not 2000.  That's too long to hold onto anything other than powder.

So this viva glam lipstick was the first batch of August, 2008.


Next is that little E symbol. When I was in school I asked almost every instructor what the heck that little E ment. No one knew. Thank goodness for google.

Turns out the E, or estimated sign, means the product meets the European standard for estimated volume. Which would make sense, since not all my products have this symbol. Since this symbol is mainly used for European Union countries, products originating from Canada and The USA don't need to have this on it. Here's the Wiki Link on the "estimated sign".


I touched briefly on the the little jar with the number in it in another post, but let me explain further what this one means.

It's essentially the expected life of a product, once you've opened it. I've only seen it in months, 6m, 12m, 24m, etc.

Now just because it's painted on your make up doesn't make it set in stone. I use the rule that if it's changed in smell, colour, or texture it's time to dump it! Typically the product doesn't last much longer than the predicted life, but if it's a lip gloss or lip stick I rarely use, I'll keep it until it smells funky.

Powders as well, they don't really have an expiry unless they've come in repeated contact with something that can harbor bacteria, such as a powder puff, or sponge. [fun tip, keep your powder puff upside down or in a separate place from your favorite setting powder, this will extend the life of both your powder and your puff. Better yet, get a retractable brush and avoid the puff nonsense all together.] If you get the oily film layer on your powders, either scrape it off or toss the product, there's no need to spread extra bacteria all over your skin.


Other symbols you'll find are kind of obvious.
Such as "flammable", found on the back of a nail polish bottle.

As well as the book with the finger pointing at it. I'm assuming that means there's a pamphlet or booklet that came with the product telling you extra fun stuffs! This is from the back of a MAC pigment jar (the old ones, with enough product to last 2 life times). When you get a pigment it comes in a box with a piece of paper telling you the full ingredients and which ones are eye/lip safe.


Last is the recycling symbols. Since as long as I can remember, I've been told to recycle, luckily here we don't have to worry about what plastic we're recycling, only that we have to recycle.  But there is method behind the recycling madness.
means it's recyclable
  means it's made from recycled materials
  means only a certain percentage is made from recycled materials

There's also that little circle with the two arrows in it, that I find on almost every one of my beauty products.

They call this "green dot", even though it's not green in most cases. It's another craaazzzy european thing ;)
The basic idea of the Green Dot is that consumers who see the logo know that the manufacturer of the product contributes to the cost of recovery and recycling. This can be with household waste collected by the authorities (eg, in special bags - in Germany these are yellow), or in containers in public places such as car parks and outside supermarkets.
The system is financed by a green dot licence fee paid by the producers of the products. Fees vary by country and are based on the material used in packaging (eg paper, plastic, metal, wood, cardboard). Each country also has different fees for joining the scheme and ongoing fixed and variable fees. Fees also take into account the cost of collection, sorting and recycling methods.
In simple terms, the system encourages manufacturers to cut down on packaging as this saves them the cost of licence fees. source

Then there's the arrows with the numbers in them.

1 means it's made from Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE)
2 means it's made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
3 means it's made from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
4 means it's made from Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
5 means it's made from Polypropylene (PP)
6 means it's made from Polystyrene (PS) [This is also ideal for home made shrinky dinks! skip to 3:30]
7 means it's made up of a little bit of everything.

I hope some one finds this useful and interesting. I personally like knowing what the heck is going on with my beauty products. 


  1. Super interesting, Erika. Thanks.

  2. thanks. I was wondering what all that meant