Botanicals: Cross Reference of Latin Binomials and Common Names

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Botanicals - Latin Genus/Species Names and English Language Common Names

Botanicals - English Language Common Names and Latin Genus/Species Names

It is probably safe to say that plant derived ingredients were among the very first cosmetics. Natural colorants, plant juices for soothing and protection from insect pests, and fragrant oils for imparting odor were all known and used in ancient times.

Although there has always been a continuing interest in the use of ingredients derived from plants in cosmetics, beginning in the 1990s, that interest exploded, with new discoveries of benefits, greater standardization and control of raw material specifications, and new formulation techniques. That explosion of new botanical ingredients being introduced to the market led to the need to re-examine the industry's rules for identifying the ingredients on consumer products.

The earliest rules for identifying botanical ingredients (ingredients derived from plants with little processing, such as simple extracts, oil, etc.) for cosmetic labeling purposes were developed in the United States. With few ingredients initially, it made sense to simply call them by their common name, for example: apple, orange, etc. As more and more distinct ingredients entered the market, however, and as it was recognized that many of the common names could be representative of different compositions from differing species of plant, it became apparent that new rules for assigning names would be required. At the same time, countries around the world were expressing interest in requiring cosmetic ingredient labeling for their products, and were considering using the U. S. nomenclature as a base, but expressed concern that common English names for plants would not be understood by their citizens.

After a number of meetings with industry in the U.S. and internationally, the Personal Care Products Council's (at that time CTFA) International Nomenclature Committee recommended that new rules recognize the advantages of using scientific terminology, Latin Genus and species names, as the base for botanical derived ingredient nomenclature. With this approach, much more specificity could be given to the botanical source of the ingredient, and, they would be easily recognized by the entire scientific and medical community. Discussions with international representatives produced agreement for this approach, and the system was initiated for naming new ingredients.

As new ingredients were being named using the new nomenclature conventions, work began on converting existing nomenclature to allow the consumer to become familiar with the Latin names and their relationship to the old common names. In 1995, the 6th Edition of the Council's International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary introduced dual labeling of botanical ingredients, with the common name given first, and the Latin names given in parentheses. This procedure was continued in the 7th Edition of the Dictionary, published in 1997.

In 1999, the Council introduced the final phase of this familiarization process by changing the order of presentation to provide the Latin names of the botanical first, with the common names in parentheses. This first appeared in the 8th Edition of the Council's International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook.

As a final step, we have examined the scientific and medical literature for reference to the common names, to ensure that those with a possible health reason will continue to have the common name provided. And, we will be working with medical societies in the coming years to make certain that those ingredients that might have a health effect, that have been identified with a common name, continue to be identified appropriately.

To provide additional information on the identification of botanical ingredients, the Council has prepared a cross reference of Latin binomials with English Common names.