Cosmetic Products Code V8

Cosmetic Products Code V8


“Cosmetic product” can be defined as “any substance or preparation intended to be put in contact with the different superficial parts of the human body (epidermis, head and body hair, nails, lips and external genital organs), or with the teeth and the mucous membrane of the mouth in order to exclusively or generally clean, perfume, modify their appearance and/or correct body odors, and/or protect or keep them in good condition” (article 2 of the European regulation n°1223/2009 of November 30th 2009 concerning cosmetic products.)

A “claim” is any claim, indication or presentation used for advertising a product. Claim must be truthful, clear, fair, objective and should not be likely to mislead.

Article 1 of the Commission regulation (EU) 655/2013, addresses the « texts, names, trademarks, pictures and figurative or other signs that convey explicitly or implicitly product characteristics or functions in the labelling, the making available on the market and advertising of cosmetic products. »

Advertising must ban all statements or visual representations that could generate irrational or unfounded fears.

These measures target advertising aimed at consumer.

They apply to any advertising claim for cosmetic products, whatever is the used support: television, radio, electronic media, telephone, display, press, POP, packaging, notes, etc.

Advertising claims must comply with Regulation (EU) No 655/2013 establishing the common criteria which the claims relating to cosmetic products must meet

The advertising claim has to comply with the provisions of the last version of “Manual on the scope of application of the Cosmetics Directive 76/768/EEC” which is available on the following link:

They also have to respect the dispositions of the Recommendations of the ARPP (“Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité”), and in particular Notes and Overlays, Vocabulary advertising executive and Sustainable development [1] .


1/1 Competition

a/ The advertisement must contain no mention to create the impression that the product has particular characteristics while all the similar products have the same characteristics, in particular because of the category of the considered product or the simple application of the laws in force.

b/ The messages should not be built on arguments denigrating one or several competitive products.

1/2 Proofs

a/ Any claim must be supported by appropriate proofs.

b/ The claim must be consistent with the nature and the scope of such proofs.

c/ When the cosmetic properties of one or more ingredients in the composition of the product are put forward in the communication, their effectiveness in the finished product must be possible to demonstrate.

1/3 Presentation of a product performances

1/3.1 Types of tests

a/There are different tests to support claims for a cosmetic product.

In addition to the sensory tests under protocol, and the ex vivo / in vitro tests, two types of tests are mainly used.

If studies or tests are mentioned in advertising, their nature must be explicitly stated:

  • Objective tests including:
    • Instrumental tests that use a machine adapted to measure a performance.
    • clinical trials under the supervision of an expert who measures the performance himself.

In both cases, the expression of the result is the direct measurement of the average performance of the tested panel (ex: -X% Wrinkles or Hydration 8 hours).

  • Satisfaction tests:

It involves questioning the consumers during a test in order to collect their perception on the action of the product after a normal use of it.

This expression of the feeling of the consumers is expressed by a percentage of satisfaction which cannot be presented as a percentage of product efficiency.

b/ The presentation of objective tests and satisfaction tests must clearly be distinct when they are used in the same message.

c/ All of these tests meet general statistical and methodological criteria as described in

Recommendations on assessment tests validated by Cosmetics Europe (The personal care association).

1/3.2 Presentation of the results

a/ Quantified results

When advertising claims include figures, advertising must only refer to the average results, obtained on the whole tested population (the total number of subjects must be indicated) and statistically valid.

b/ Visual representations

When the advertisement refers to illustrations or demonstrations, for instance of a “before / after” visuals, these visual representations should proportionately and coherently reflect the performances of the product and be representative of the tested sample.

c/ Ex vivo/In vitro results

c/1 When the advertised results are derived from ex vivo/ in vitro testing methods, it should be  mentioned in advertising.

c/2 In any case, the presentation of results from ex vivo/in vitro studies should not suggest a result in vivo.

1/3.3 Illustration of performance

a/ Digital techniques can be used to improve the beauty of the images in order to communicate on the character and the position of the brand or any specific advantage of the product.

b/ Nevertheless, the illustration of the performance must not be misleading:

b/1 The digital techniques must not modify the images in such a way that the forms and features are misleading concerning the performances of the product

b/2 Pre and post production techniques are acceptable as long as they don’t convey features or functions that the product doesn’t have.

For example, the following cases aren’t deemed misleading:

  • Obvious exaggeration or stylish beauty shots that aren’t’ supposed to be taken literally
  • Techniques that improve the beauty of the image and that don’t concern the product or the performances claimed

1/3.4 Guarantees

a/ A recommendation, coming from one or several members of a medical, para medical or scientific profession, can apply either to an ingredient of a product, to a product or to a general message on hygiene or beauty, provided that it is based on objective scientific proofs that can be checked, and that it not only reflects the personal opinion of one or a few of these interviewed skilled individuals.  b/ When the direct recommendation for a product comes from a specialist working for the brand, the link must clearly be indicated in the ad.

c/ The specialist, if he is named, must really exist. An actor can be used though to represent him in the ad.

d/ These messages should not lead to confusion for consumers between cosmetic product and medicinal product.

1/3.5 References to surgical or medical processes or operations

The reference to medical procedures or surgery is possible provided that it does not mislead the consumer into believing that the product will give results equal or comparable to these processes or medical procedures or surgery.

1/3.6 References to mechanism of action

It is possible to refer to the mechanism of action of a product or of its ingredients if the mechanism relies on objective substantiations and that the main claim concerning the product is related to a visible cosmetic effect.


2/1 “New”

a/ The word “new” and all its derived terms should only be used in relation with an actual modification of:

  • the formula of the product or of its use
  • its presentation or its packaging, provided that it is well understood that this is new to this level only. b/ The use of this term is usually limited to one year.

2/2 “Without” claims

a/ In order to contribute to a positive image of cosmetics, advertising must be devoted primarily to positive arguments.

b/ A this title, the use of an allegation indicating the absence of one or more ingredients or category of ingredients is possible only if the claim meets the following specific conditions :

b/1 It is not the main argument of the communication but provides consumer with additional information ;

b/ 2 It meets all the common criteria established by Regulation (EU) No. 655/2013 (conformity with legislation, truthfulness, evidence, sincerity, fairness, informed choice) and good practice of its application developed in the Technical Paper on Cosmetic Claims

published on 3 July 2017 by the European Commission and its subsequent versions (see translation of the document reproduced in Appendix).

2/3 “Environmental allegations”

The whole Recommendation Sustainable development of the ARPP is intended to apply to the communications of the sector. In particular:

a/ Advertisements should not contain any statement likely to mislead directly or indirectly the consumer on the actual ecological benefits or properties of products as well as on the reality of the actions that the advertiser leads for the environment.

b/ Advertisements must not give or appear to give a total guarantee of safety in the field of the environment, where the ecological properties of the product only concern a single stage of the life of the product or only one of its properties.

c/ The choice of words or signs in advertising, as well as the colours that could be associated there, must not suggest ecological virtues which the product does not possess.

2/4 “Hypoallergenic”

The word “hypoallergenic” is the only word derived from allergy which can be used, without particular explanation, to qualify products that are designed to minimize the possible risks of allergy.  All the other terms derived from the word “allergy” are forbidden. The term “allergy” can only be used with great caution.

The use of this term should be consistent with the practices of the profession and must meet the following criteria:

  • The product must not contain allergens or precursors of known allergens, in particular substances or mixtures of substances:
    • identified as sensitizers by the SCCC (Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety);
    •  identified as skin sensitizers by other official risk assessment committees;
    • falling within the classification of skin sensitizers of category 1, subcategory 1A or subcategory 1B, on the basis of the new criteria set by Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008;
    • identified by the company as part of the monitoring of cosmetovigilance of the product;
    • generally recognized as sensitizers in the scientific literature;
    • for which there is a lack of relevant data on their sensitizing potential.
  • The product should not give the impression of guaranteeing the total absence of any risk of allergic reaction.
  • The very low allergenic potential of the product should be verified and confirmed by scientifically sound data and statistically valid (eg post-marketing surveillance data).

2/5 “Slimming / cellulite”

a/ Weight loss is the result of either illness or a specialized treatment or a change of diet. Therefore, in a claim concerning cosmetics, no reference can ever be made to this word or to any derived terms.

b/ The use of the words “slim” or “getting slimmer” or its derived terms is acceptable to express an improved aesthetic appearance, without any ambiguity in the expression.

c/ In this case, considering the varying results from one individual to the other, the quantified claims concerning reduced measurements and/or any precise information of the deadline for obtaining the results are only allowed if scientific proof is given.

d/ Products which mention an aesthetic action can refer to the word « cellulite » only by using the term “anticellulite” for example, provided that both visuals and claims relate to the cosmetic appearance of the skin, its appearance and its maintenance in good conditions (for example: “smoothing“, “firmer skin”, softer skin“,…).  e/ Any claim related to the prevention or treatment of the cellulite is forbidden and the action of the product should only refer to the signs, effects, or appearance of cellulite.

2/6 “anti age / anti wrinkles”

a/ A product can claim an action on the signs or the effects of aging. In this case, allegations concerning attenuation or reduction of wrinkles and fine lines can be used.  b/ This way, the use of the expression « getting younger » or its derived terms must express the appearance of more youthful skin, without ambiguity in the wording of the advertising message.

2/7 “Anti hair loss”

a/ What is allowed :

  • The use of the word “anti hair loss” to qualify a product or a treatment aimed at diminishing, slowing down, limiting or preventing hair loss. The advertising message must not imply a definitive result.
  • Claims about growth of existing hair.

b/ What is forbidden :

  • The terms of growth or fresh growth of new hair, or any other sentence leading to the conclusion that the product can be a cure for hair loss.
  • The terms “baldness“, “stops hair loss” or any other similar expression.

2/8 “Moisturizing”

Moisturizing products are cosmetic products aimed at improving or maintaining the water balance of the epidermis. A cosmetic product cannot be presented as susceptible to deeply moisturize or moisturize again the skin.

2/9 “Sensitive skin” claim

The claim “sensitive skin” is possible if both of the following conditions are met:

a/ The volunteers included in the use test under normal conditions of use reported recent and repeated history of functional symptomatology of cutaneous discomfort (ex: tingling, tightness, warming up, itching, burning, redness …);

b/ These volunteers did not show during the use test an increase in the symptomatology functional skin discomfort analyzed as relevant.


3/1 Natural cosmetic product

A cosmetic product can be qualified in its entirety as “natural” / “naturally occurring” only if its content of natural origin, within the meaning of ISO 16128 or any other reference at least as demanding, is greater than or equal to 95%.

3/2 Organic cosmetic product

a/ A cosmetic product can be considered as “organic” only if it satisfies at least one of the following conditions:

  • It contains 100 % of certified ingredients from organic farming ;
  • It has been certified “organic” by a certifying body ;
  • It can be justified that it was elaborated according to published standards, having a requirement level, in terms of composition and content of certified ingredients stemming from organic farming, equivalent to level(s) of requirement required by the certifying bodies.

b/ The use of a sign or symbol in advertising should not be confused with official labels.

c/ Advertising does not imply that these signs, symbols or labels worth more than their effective range.

3/3 Sunscreens product

a/ Claims concerning sunscreen products must comply with the EU Commission

Recommendation of 22 September 2006 on the efficacy of sunscreen products and the claims made relating thereto.

b/ In particular, the following informational message, on the proper use of the sun, must be integrated in the advertising, each company remains having the freedom to choose the most appropriate support and return the following three concepts in the form or the expression of choice:

  • ‘Do not stay too long in the sun, even while using a sunscreen product’;  -‘Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight’;  -‘Over-exposure to the sun is a serious health threat’.  c/ No claim should be made that implies the following characteristics:
  • 100 % protection from UV radiation (such as ‘sun block’, ‘sun blocker’ or ‘total protection’);  -no need to re-apply the product under any circumstances (such as ‘all day prevention’).

Translation courtesy of FEBEA – « Fédération des Entreprises de la Beauté »

3/4 Products for acne problems

a/ Are prohibited all claims concerning treatment or prevention of acne, treatment or prevention of papules, pustules, cysts, micro-cysts as well as the endocrinal action on sebum production.

b/ Any other claim is possible if substantiated by scientific evidence.

3/5 Products for oral/dental health

a/ Are prohibited all claims concerning the treatment of cavities or gingivitis (for example: reduction of gum inflammation or gum bleedings)

b/ Are possible all claims related to the prevention of cavities or the prevention and the reduction of occasional gum bleedings and inflammation.


Free from claims

In the case of “free from claims”, more guidance is needed for the application of the common criteria to provide an adequate and sufficient protection of consumers and professionals from misleading claims.

Criterion Description Examples of claims (only illustrative and not exhaustive) and remarks
Legal compliance “Free from” claims or claims with similar meaning should not be made concerning (an) ingredient(s) which is prohibited for use in cosmetics by Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009. The claim ‘free from Corticosteroids’ is not allowed, as Corticosteroids are banned by EU cosmetics legislation.
Truthfulness In case claims in relation to the absence of ingredients are made in relation to functional groups of ingredients that are defined in Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009, such as preservatives and colorants, the product should not contain any ingredient that belongs to the group as defined in this Regulation.

If it is claimed on the product that it does not contain a specific ingredient(s), the ingredient should not be present or released.

The claim ‘free from Formaldehyde’ is not allowed, if the product contains a formaldehyde releasing ingredient (e.g. Diazolidinyl Urea).
Evidential support The absence of (a) specific ingredient(s) should be demonstrated by adequate and verifiable evidence. See Annex II on “Best practices applying to experimental studies”.
Honesty “Free from” claims or claims with similar meaning should not be allowed when they refer to an ingredient which is typically not used in the particular kind of cosmetic product.

“Free from” claims or claims with similar meaning should not be allowed when they imply guaranteed properties of the product, based on the absence of (an) ingredient(s), which cannot be given.

“Free from” claims or claims with similar meaning addressing functional groups of ingredients should not be allowed if the product contains ingredients with multiple functions and among these is the function that the product is claimed to be free from. Exceptions might be possible (e.g. based on challenge test results of the formula without the particular ingredient(s)).

Fine fragrances usually contain such a high amount of alcohol that the additional use of preservatives is not necessary. In this case, it would be dishonest to highlight in advertising the fact that a certain fine fragrance does not contain any preservative.

The                  claim   ‘free    from allergenic/sensitizing substances’ is not allowed. A complete absence of the risk of an allergic reaction cannot be guaranteed and the product should not give the impression that it does.

The claim ‘free from preservatives’ should not be used when a product contains (an) ingredient(s) showing a protective effect against microorganisms, which are not included in Annex V of Regulation 1223/2009, e. g. alcohol. If the responsible person has evidence that the particular ingredient or the combination of such ingredients does not contribute to the product protection, it might be appropriate to use the claim (e.g. challenge test results of the formula without the particular ingredient).

The claim ‘free from perfume’ should not be used when a product contains an ingredient which exerts a perfuming function in the product, regardless of its other possible functions in the product.

Fairness “Free from” claims or claims with similar meaning should not be allowed when they imply a denigrating message, notably when they are mainly based on a presumed negative perception on the safety of the ingredient (or group of ingredients). Certain parabens are safe when used in accordance to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009. Considering the fact that all cosmetic products must be safe, the claim ‘free from parabens‘ should not be accepted,because it is denigrating the entire group of parabens.

Phenoxyethanol and triclosan are safe when used according to the Cosmetics Regulation. Hence the claim free from these substances should not be accepted because it is denigrating  authorised substances.

Informed decision-making “Free from” claims or claims with similar meaning should be permitted when they allow an informed choice to a specific target group or groups of end users. The following claims should be permitted if they also comply with the other common criteria:

‘free from alcohol’, e.g. in a mouthwash intended as a family product;

‘free from animal-derived ingredients’, e.g. in products intended for vegans; or

‘free from acetone’, e.g. in nail polish, for users wishing to avoid its particular smell.