The report from the ARPP (French advertising self-regulatory organization) on Advertisement and Cosmetic Products as well as our expertise has enabled us to draw up a list of cosmetic claim examples to avoid in Europe.

8 allégations cosmétiques à éviter en Europe

At EcoMundo, we understand how important your cosmetic label is and how claims can positively impact sales. But there are a few general principles to remember: claims must be true, honest, fair, have evidential support, comply with the European Cosmetic Regulation 1223/2009 and must help the consumer make an informed decision.

Take a look at our article on How to make cosmetic claims in Europe to brush up your current knowledge on the 6 common criteria laid down by Regulation No 655/2013.

The following 8 cosmetic claims are best to avoid:

1. “Paraben-free”

This term should be avoided as “parabens are safe when used in accordance to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009”. There are five parabens that are actually banned in cosmetics: Isobutylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben.
When you claim “free from parabens”, this suggests that other cosmetic products on the market where this claim does not appear are unsafe, therefore denigrating parabens and being unfair to competition.

2. “Not tested on animals”

This claim cannot be presented as the main characteristic of the product. In fact, it is old news… We all remember the famous Body Shop “Against Animal Testing” campaign back in 1996 which led to a UK-wide ban on animal testing on cosmetic products and ingredients in 1998. Now, that was a hugely positive marketing claim! But that was in the 90’s.

Today, animal testing has been banned for all cosmetic companies throughout Europe since 2013. It started in 2004 with the prohibition to test finished cosmetic products then in 2009 the prohibition extended to ingredients, mixtures and raw materials to move on in 2013 to the definitive prohibition even when there are no other alternative methods. Hence, you are merely stating legal compliance.

Another similar example stating legal compliance includes: “does not contain (prohibited ingredient)”.

3. “Activates your skin’s immunity”

A cosmetic is “intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body”, but activating immunity is overstated for a cosmetic product. It sounds more like the action of a vitamin booster from the medical sector than a simple cosmetic product and therefore the claim isn’t appropriate for a cosmetic product. The same goes for claims associated to medical conditions or vocabulary.

4. “rejuvenating”

Don’t you just love a hyperbole! Yes, we would all love a little rejuvenation… turning back time a few years maybe. Unfortunately, rejuvenation is impossible.
Used alone, this claim is misleading as it makes the consumer believe they will feel younger while using the product. Note however, that it can be used, if combined with other words or sentences to convey the fact that the skin appears more youthful.

Other examples include: “reverses the process”, “even time doesn’t resist me”, “controls skin aging at the source”.

5. “appear youthful without injections”

Why would injections exist if this claim were true? Here is yet another claim exaggerating the product’s effects. The definition of a cosmetic makes it clear that it is aimed at a superficial use and can only go so deep as the epidermis. It is giving false hopes by implying that the product will give results similar to cosmetic surgery.

6. “90 % hair loss prevention”

When a claim is based on consumer satisfaction surveys, it must be clearly stated. This claim alone is easily mistaken to be an efficiency percentage rather than a satisfaction percentage. The claim must refer to the mean results and mention the number of subjects surveyed for more transparency.

7. “say goodbye to cellulite”

This claim personifies cellulite in order to make it walk or even run away. It promises the disappearance of cellulite when in fact a cosmetic product can only act on the external appearance of the skin. Of course, the skin can look firmer or softer but the cellulite will still be there.

8. “total sun protection”

When talking about sun screens, it is important to remember that messages must convey the fact that too much sun exposure is dangerous. Never minimize the effects of the sun!

The 2006 recommendation on the efficacy of sunscreen products and the claims made relating thereto establishes that no claim should imply total protection especially as even to this day no sun screen is 100% effective against UVAs and UVBs. It is also important to note that claiming or suggesting that you can benefit from sun exposure all day without re-applying any cream is not authorized either.

Another similar example: “sun block”, “all day prevention"

Are stricter rules coming your way?

If the European Commission considers that the 6 common criteria are not met by the cosmetics industry, a tightening of the regulatory framework may come to pass
This could have a huge impact on the creative ideas and freedom of brands.

We recommend you stay clear of making excessive claims, exaggerating effects, misleading the consumer and going against a cosmetic product’s definition as this could save you the cost and time of possibly having to make changes to your cosmetic labels for Europe.

NB: More often than not, hyperboles, metaphors and personifications can all be misleading to the average consumer. If you do use them, it must be obvious that the claim cannot be taken literally. For example “this perfume gives you wings”, nobody will expect to grow wings overnight, which is why such hyperbole is tolerated.

Discover our European Cosmetics Regulation services

Contact us


Do not hesitate to contact our expert Sylvain De Backer by phone on +33 (0)1 83 64 20 54 for Europe and for North America please dial + 1 (778) 231-1607 or send an email at [email protected].

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