What Does the 'e' Symbol Mean on Cosmetic Labels?

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What the 'e' Symbol Means on Cosmetics Labels

Reading green beauty labels goes beyond deciphering those ingredient listings. Like, way beyond. There are the bunnies, the triangle arrows, the vegan hearts…mostly comprehensible. Wondering what that little ‘e’ symbol means?

Yes, decoding a cosmetic label is no small thing. Why bother? Because the only true way to know what you are getting yourself into and what’s going on (and in) your body, is to know how to decipher those labels and find out what the product is all about.

One symbol that doesn’t get quite as much recognition as, say, vegan or cruelty-free symbols is the ‘e’. Otherwise known as the “e mark”, the lower case ‘e’ is actually called the “estimated sign”. But what is it doing on your cosmetic product labels?

Though not required, it shows the brand complies with the regulation of the European Union (EU) Cosmetic Directive on average fill requirements.

Average wha…?

We are already aware that things are vastly different between the EU and U.S. with cosmetic manufacture and labeling. One such variance is with fill standards. EU requires that the average weight of a batch of product is no less than what is stated on the package. U.S. abides by minimum fill, meaning the amount you see on the label is at least what is in the package.

This symbol is sometimes seen on cosmetics manufactured in the U.S. It is usually intended to show that the brand meets the guidelines of the EU Directive. And why would this be important? Because the EU has much more rigorous standards where cosmetics safety is concerned. For example, the EU has banned 1300+ cosmetic ingredients. In the U.S. we only have 11 chemicals on the list of restricted ingredients.

Okay, so now that we’ve covered the nitty gritty on the ‘e’ standard, let’s talk about why it matters. The symbol basically shows that you are getting your money’s worth, quantity-wise, in a product. Products not manufactured in the EU that carry the symbol may not be EU approved due to the fill standard issue mentioned above.

So how to know if a product is safe? Purchase all cosmetics from European retailers? Make sure they all have every symbol safety symbol on the label? Nope.

The one real way to know if you are buying a safe product? Always, always, read your product ingredient listings, checking for harmful chemicals. It is the bottom line on identifying a truly safe product.

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Reading label image via Shutterstock

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