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Communication of a cosmetic product in accordance with the law

Communication of a cosmetic product in accordance with the law

Receiving, processing, and transmitting information, i.e., communication, is a condition for all existence. It lies at the foundation of all organizational activities. Appearance, color, shape, name, the entire advertising message are basic channels of information through which the manufacturer communicates information about their product to the consumer. Declarations (statements) also belong to them as one of the most important elements of communication, “saying” what the product is and what properties it has.


What am I, what do I do?

I am a shower gel used for body cleansing. I cleanse gently but effectively, leaving a feeling of freshness and skin moisturization.

What the consumer sees, reads on the label must clearly inform them about what the particular cosmetic is and what function it serves. It cannot mislead in any way. Both the form, application area, and function must fit within the definition of a cosmetic product. The presented message must comply with applicable legal regulations and be fair to competitors. For the average consumer, shower gel washes, shampoo is used for hair washing, and sun protection product protects against harmful UV radiation. These main functions of the cosmetic product are defined as its primary functions. It often also exhibits additional effects, which are referred to as its secondary effects (a face care cream may also have protective properties against UV radiation).

Common criteria for statements regarding cosmetic products

Through declarations (statements), the consumer is informed about the properties and effectiveness of a given product. Their wording is primarily governed by legal regulations such as: Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on cosmetic products and Commission Regulation (EU) No 655/2013 laying down common criteria for the justification of claims. These criteria are also discussed in the technical document for Regulation 655/2013. They include:

  1. Compliance with regulations

A statement that a cosmetic product has been approved by a specific body in the European Union is not allowed because it can be placed on the market without any government approval. To be sold, it must be tested and evaluated for safety. One cannot point out any advantage of the product if it relies solely on compliance with minimal legal requirements (for example, boasting that the product does not contain a substance that is legally unacceptable).

     2. Truthfulness of information provided

Providing false information is not permissible. If a shampoo label states that it contains chamomile extract, then this ingredient must be present. In the INCI, the name will appear as Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract. Describing the properties of a given ingredient should also be done with caution. Sometimes, the innovativeness or rich history of an active ingredient may lead to exaggeration and suggest that the final product has the same effects and properties. If its use is not reflected in the action of the entire formula, it is against the law.

    3. Evidence

Statements that a manufacturer wishes to include on the label should be supported by appropriate and verifiable evidence. They are based on experimental studies or studies of consumer perception. The former include in silico, in vitro, and ex vivo studies, among others. They should be credible, repeatable, conducted in accordance with established and scientifically validated methodologies. To serve as evidence, they should predict a given effect or be representative of the in vivo effect. Studies involving humans are subjective, relying on the assessment of product effectiveness and properties. They proceed in accordance with ethical principles, and tested products should have been previously assessed as safe (dermatology and microbiology are required). Special attention should be paid to instrumental studies, which allow confirming statements that cannot be proven in an applicative study: for example, measuring skin moisturization, skin elasticity, reducing the visibility of wrinkles, and many others. Declarations supported by scientific publications may be used, provided they are relevant to the product and the statement made. Hyperboles do not require evidence, i.e., formulations that should not be taken literally: for example, these perfumes will give you wings, or any abstract statements that are products of imagination.

    4. Compliance with the factual state

Only actions and functions confirmed in studies may be included in the product description. Furthermore, statements cannot be exaggerated and imply the uniqueness of the cosmetic if similar products have the same characteristics. If its action depends on use with another product, this should also be clearly stated.

    5. Fairness

It is not permissible to discredit competitors or ingredients that comply with cosmetic law. Statements should focus on what the cosmetic contains, not on what it does not. It is unfair to make a declaration that could lead to confusion with a competitor’s product.

    6. Conscious decision making

Increasingly, besides maintaining basic hygiene, cosmetics are used to enhance personal comfort and well-being. To enable the average cosmetics user to choose the right products, best suited to their needs, it is important for the information they receive on the label to be understandable, clear, and credible. Providing information in an ambiguous manner does not facilitate the consumer in making an informed choice.


Overfed Market

Konrad Lorenz, the Austrian Nobel laureate in medicine and physiology, described life as a “knowledge-acquiring process.” He noticed that the creative character of life processes is based on the exchange of information. A product’s business card, i.e., a catchy slogan, description, attractive and interesting appearance are the first elements that catch the eye and convey a message to the consumer. Alongside price and brand philosophy, they are what compel them to make a purchase. Creating product communication is not an easy feat. The anchor of truthfulness, credibility, and fairness should unite all legal aspects while maintaining the attractiveness and uniqueness of the product, so as to attract the attention of customers in the increasingly competitive cosmetics market.

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