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European Commission: Technical document on advertising claims



As previously announced (http://www.mdss.com/cosmetic/Archive.htm), the European Commission agreed on the revised and extended text for the guidelines to the Regulation (EU) No. 655/2013 (laying down common criteria for the justification of claims used in relation to cosmetic products). Therein, agreements between experts from national authorities, industry and associations could be reached for the handling of ”free from” and “hypoallergenic” claims (Annexes III and IV of the document).

Due to internal legal reservations about the agreed text, the publication of these additional guidelines took longer than expected and have finally not been published as an official European Commission document but as a so called “technical“ document”. Despite the fact that this document is not a legal text and not even considered as an official EU guideline, it will be used by European authorities as such for the review of advertising claims. The amendments indicated in the Annexes III and IV of the document shall apply from July 2019. In the meantime, manufacturers and distributors will have the opportunity to review their advertising practices once again with regard to the new criteria.

Since complaints by national authorities or even legal attacks from competing businesses are expected on the basis of this new document it is strongly recommended to check the necessity of advertising claims, in particular the “free from”-Claims. This type of claim is explicitly mentioned in relation to the term “misleading” when it comes to perfuming substances, preservatives and especially parabens. The widely used claim “Free from parabens” had been the most controversial subject in the preceding discussions. According to the technical document, this claim shall not be accepted anymore since some parabens are considered safe for use and the claim “denigrates the entire group of parabens”. The same applies explicitly for Phenoxyethanol and Triclosan. These substances are authorized and considered safe for use under the restrictions outlined in the Annexes of the Cosmetics Regulation.

On the other side, claims such as “free from alcohol” and “free from animal-derived ingredients” may still be used under defined conditions.

Irrespective of the possibility to accept the risk of taking the chance for judicial clarification, every company must decide on its own to what extent it makes sense to label the absence of certain substances.


If you have any further questions, please contact us via cosmetics@mdss.com.


Technical document for download: https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/24847