Claims on cosmetic products are an essential way for cosmetic manufacturers to explain to their customer what the product does and why they should buy it instead of something else. If a manufacturer makes false or misleading claims, they are likely to alienate their most precious asset, the loyal customer. However, one person’s inventive presentation of their product’s credentials may be another person’s misleading claim; therefore, certain rules must be established to draw the line.
For many years, rules governing claims in the EU were established by the member states’ self-regulatory organizations, such as the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK, whose codes of practice not only apply the laws surrounding advertising but also consider national character and issues such as taste and decency. There has been no change to this well-established way of ensuring that advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful, and the system of self-regulation will continue in the EU member states. Under the Cosmetics Directive, manufacturers ensured that claims could be substantiated, and the evidence was available in the Product Information File.
However, in European Cosmetics Regulation No. 1223/2009, the European Commission (EC) has chosen to regulate cosmetic claims in addition to these existing regimes, saying that consumers should be protected from misleading claims concerning efficacy and other characteristics of cosmetic products. This is covered specifically in Article 20. The first paragraph states “In the labeling, . . . text, names, trademarks, pictures and figurative or other signs shall not be used to imply that these products have characteristics or functions which they do not have.” The second paragraph sets out the process by which the EC will develop a list of the common criteria justifying the use of a claim. The third paragraph covers claims relating to animal testing, and is essentially unchanged from the text of the European Cosmetics Directive.