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 to position and differentiate these products in the market, 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, which underlines the importance of regulating this communication, which must be useful, understandable and reliable, allowing for an informed decision in the choice of products, with the ultimate goal of protecting the consumer from misleading claims regarding the effectiveness and other characteristics of cosmetic products.

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

“For the labeling, making available on the market and advertising of cosmetic products, text, names, marks, images or other signs, 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 relation to cosmetic products, which have applied since July 11, 2013, through Regulation (EU) No 655/2013 :

Compliance with legislation;
Evidence ;
Sincerity ;
Informed choice.

More recently, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the increase in the use of alcohol-based hand hygiene products, the Commission also felt the need to detail product claims that would not justify the classification of leave-on hydroalcoholic hand gels as cosmetic products and published a new technical document in this regard.

It is the responsibility of the responsible person to ensure that the message communicated is consistent with the defined criteria and that it is properly supported by reliable, relevant and sound evidence.


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