The truth about claims
When shopping for a cosmetic product, everybody looks at the advertisements. They make a product look more enticing or encourage us to try it. Given two identical products, product claims can make one more attractive than the other and beat it in terms of marketing.
Commission Regulation No. 665/2013 sets out common criteria applicable to claims made for cosmetic products, and puts limits on the claims we can use to make our product a marketing superstar. The Regulation provides guidelines regarding points to take into account when making claims for a cosmetic product. Compliance with Regulation No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products is obligatory for all products, and therefore does not need to be restated. Neither should it be claimed that that a product does not contain ingredients which are not permitted, as they are prohibited and the product could not pass the safety assessment process.
Veracity is another important point, as if a product claims that it contains an ingredient then it must be included in the formula. For example, for the claim “Contains Lavender” the product must include the lavender plant as an extract, oil or a specific part of the plant like leaves, not a perfume that imitates the smell of lavender. Likewise, if a product says that it lasts for 24 hours then there must have been a study that confirmed this is true. Doing otherwise is to mislead the consumer.
Another guideline to take into account is that the data must support these marketing tools. In other words, explicit or implicit claims must be justified by tests that demonstrate the truth of what is stated. The previously mentioned claim “lasts for 24 hours” is an example. The Responsible Person must make sure that all claims are proven. With the tests out of the way, claims should focus on the effects of the product, and go no further than that. This point relates to honesty regarding the product and competitors.
The next point is impartiality, that is to say that claims should be objective and not go against similar products of other brands on the market. It is not impartial to denigrate the use of ingredients by other manufacturers when these are permitted on the market. Examples are “parabens free”, “alcohol free”, “free of silcones”, “free of preservatives”, “free of colourants”.
Finally, consumers should be presented with claims that are clear, and comprehensible, and that cannot be misunderstood. They should not be mislead into believing that the product has properties or effects that it does not.
At Cosmeservice, we recommend thinking about claims at the very beginning of producing a formula. Raw materials, with their bibliography, can be another tool for justifying a claim. The labelling should be designed as the product is being developed, and cannot be finalised until the Safety Assessment has been carried out.
Ana María Hernández