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Informing the Consumer

Consumer information is a key component of the interaction between the cosmetics and personal care industry and consumers. It conveys information about new products, how they work, who they are for and how best to use them.

It is essential that consumers are able to make informed choices in full knowledge and that cosmetics manufacturers are transparent and responsible in their marketing communications. The cosmetics legislation clearly indicates what information must be conveyed to consumers through product labels, and it also sets criteria for the justification of voluntary marketing communication (claims).

Regulation governing labelling, advertising and claims by the cosmetics and personal care industry

Companies in our industry currently adhere to numerous rules and regulations governing labelling, advertising and cosmetic product claims. At the EU level, these comprise specific articles in the EU Cosmetics Regulation itself, including Article 19, which covers labelling requirements, and Article 20 together with Regulation (EU) 655/2013 which regulate the use of cosmetic product claims.

The EU Cosmetics Regulation lays out six common criteria for the justification of claims used in relation to cosmetic products. They apply to cosmetic product claims, irrespective of the medium (e.g. print, television, internet) and the type of marketing tool used (e.g. labels, leaflets, in-store promotional advertising, catalogues, QR codes), product functions claimed and the target audience.

The Common Criteria are:

  • Legal compliance 
  • Truthfulness
  • Evidential support 
  • Honesty
  • Fairness 
  • Informed decision-making

For a complete list and descriptions of all components of the common criteria, please refer to the relevant European Commission document].

In addition to the common criteria, companies need to comply with national advertising laws, which in turn are based on the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) and the Misleading and Comparative Advertising Directive (MCAD), as well as other international and national advertising codes.

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Applying a thorough self-regulatory approach to advertising

Our industry is committed to the highest standards in all aspects of our dealings with consumers. This includes communications, in particular advertising. Cosmetics Europe works proactively to promote best practice in cosmetics advertising, in response to consumer concerns about any adverse impact cosmetics advertising may have on individuals and society as a whole.

Our industry has adopted for a self-regulatory approach to cosmetics advertising, in parallel with all relevant legislation governing advertising in the EU. Given that advertising is increasingly borderless, self-regulation is imperative. Due to nuances in culture, language and societal trends between countries, a purely legislative approach would make it virtually impossible to monitor and implement a complete system of checks and balances that protects consumers from misleading or offensive advertising, while meanwhile giving industry the flexibility to produce effective advertising.

Complementing the European Commission’s list of common criteria for cosmetics claims, the industry has adopted a set of guiding principles designed to avoid misleading advertising, including a charter that sets out the overall standards and acts as a baseline for cosmetics advertising in Europe.

Our charter is endorsed by all Cosmetics Europe members, who commit to ensure that our industry’s advertising and marketing communication shall:

Comply with the relevant European and national legal and self-regulatory frameworks 
The European cosmetics and personal industry commits to fully abide by relevant regulations, directives, laws, and codes of practice. Such a legal and self-regulatory framework allows responsible trade and brings benefits to both consumers and economic operators. The industry will also continue to co-operate with public authorities and self-regulatory organisations at European and national level.

Be sincere, truthful and not misleading
The European cosmetics and personal industry commits to ensuring that its advertising and marketing communications will be sincere and truthful, delivering accurate and honest information to consumers. Claims for products will be true and substantiated. In particular, environment-related claims will be addressed with particular care. Members will neither unduly criticise nor denigrate competitor products.

Allow consumers to make informed choices
The European cosmetics and personal industry commits to providing consumers with advertising and marketing communications that will allow them to make informed choices and buy the products that best suit their needs and expectations. Advertising and marketing communications should not exploit credulity, lack of knowledge or inexperience whilst remaining varied, innovative, entertaining and aspirational.

Act in a socially responsible manner
The European cosmetics and personal industry commits to respecting society’s evolving values towards social responsibility and to recognising the variety of cultures and standards. Advertising and marketing communications must meet taste and decency principles and pay special attention to the respect of human beings and vulnerable consumers.

In developing the charter and guiding principles, Cosmetics Europe adopted the accepted best practice model for effective advertising self-regulation defined by the European Commission. Furthermore, it consulted a broad range of stakeholders, including the European institutions, self-regulatory advertising standards bodies, advertising representative bodies, and Non-Governmental Organisations, in order to ensure the material was wide-ranging enough to cover all requirements. An audit of compliance has also been carried out.

Read the full charter and guidelines here

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