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How are cosmetic claims regulated in the EU?

Cosmetic claims are one of the defining elements of a cosmetic product, and represent an important marketing tool for positioning and differentiating these products on the market, by providing and exposing consumers to a wide variety of information on product characteristics and qualities.

Whether on the product label or in promotional material, cosmetic claims are widespread, underlining the importance of regulating this communication, which must be useful, understandable and reliable, enabling an informed decision in product selection, with the ultimate aim of protecting the consumer against misleading claims concerning the efficacy and other characteristics of cosmetic products.

Article 20 of Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 is very clear on this point, stipulating that :

“When labelling, making available on the market and advertising cosmetic products, texts, names, trademarks, images or other signs, whether figurative or not, may not be used to attribute to these products characteristics or functions that they do not possess.”

In order to ensure compliance with the same principles throughout the European Union, the European Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, has defined six common criteria that must be met for the substantiation of claims used in connection with cosmetic products, which have applied since July 11, 2013, through Regulation (EU) No. 655/2013 :

Compliance with legislation ;
Truthfulness;
Proof;
Sincerity ;
Equity;
An informed choice.

More recently, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the increasing use of alcohol-based hand hygiene products, the Commission also felt the need to detail product claims that would not justify the classification of no-rinse hydroalcoholic hand gels as cosmetic products, and published a new technical document in this regard.

It is the responsibility of the person in charge to ensure that the message communicated complies with the defined criteria and is properly supported by reliable, relevant and solid evidence.

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