What are these weird ingredients?

If you’ve stayed informed over the past few months, you’ve noticed that we’re making a few changes around Alabu. We have a new logo, and are currently rolling out new packaging. If you’ve received anything in the new packaging, you’ll notice that the ingredients listing looks a little different than it used to. First, I’d like to say that our product ingredients have NOT changed in ANY WAY whatsoever. What has changed is what we call them.

Let me explain:

Our products are considered cosmetics by the FDA. Although we mostly sell soap (which is exempt from most cosmetic regulation), because we advertise that our soap moisturizes, it’s considered a cosmetic. The FDA has some pretty specific rules about how to label cosmetics. One of these rules relates to how ingredients are named. In a nutshell: the FDA defines what ingredient names are acceptable, and we have to use those names on our product packaging. This is good for consistency’s sake, but it also makes some of the ingredients look a little more menacing.

For example, the FDA-approved term for “Olive Oil” is “OLEA EUROPAEA OIL”, for a really crazy one, try “Shea Butter” whose FDA-approved term is “BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII”. We did try our best to preserve the common names in our listing though. Instead of listing “RICINUS COMMUNIS SEED OIL” we list it as “RICINIS COMMUNIS (CASTOR) SEED OIL”, (hopefully you can figure out that’s just “Castor Oil”) which is as good as we could do without breaking the FDA rules.

We realize that this makes it a little harder to read the ingredients, and it’s important to us that our customers know all of the ingredients that go into our products, but then again we don’t want to be breaking the rules, either. We think we’ve done a good job making it as easy as possible while still being within the rules.



  1. Thanks Hal

    I think this would be worth checking out to ensure your labeling applies to european requrements before you start applying your new labels on your products, otherwise it may cost you additional money if you have to change your wording further down the line to comply with european legislation.

    Europe is to big a potential market to miss out on.



  2. John,

    I think they will be compliant with European rules, but that’s something I’ll actually have to check on.


  3. Sounds good Hal

    Will you be making sure your labeling complies with European rules.



  4. Just a suggestion Hal,

    Might be a good idea to have the plain english name for each of the ingredients shown in brackets right after each of the “funny FDA approved name”. This would let potential customers see exactly what is in each product.

    The suggestion will rely on your labels being large enough to accomodate all the extra text.

    I always find it silly when regulatory bodies ask manufacturers to label their products with stupid names. How does this really help a consumer when they do not understand the “non plain english description”.

    Keep up the great products.



    • John,

      Thanks for the suggestion. We’re currently trying to figure out how to fit the “plain english” ingredients on our packaging. We can’t just add the plain english words into the official ingredients listing because of how the FDA requires cosmetic ingredients to be displayed. You do see some manufacturers doing this, but it’s technically against the rules, and recently the FDA is paying a lot more attention to cosmetic manufacturers. So, we’d have to find another spot on the packaging to put them. We’re definitely going to have some sweet tools on our upcoming website for learning about ingredients though!


  5. Would you be willing/able to have a page on the website with translations to all of the new required ingredient names?

    • Great question Cecelia. Once we update the ingredients on our website, we will also have a listing of the ingredients “in plain English” for each product. Hope that answers your question!


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