Using Cosmetics Claims The Right Way
Praise your products, WoW the client, protect your business
By Maribel Colón (Quality Systems and Creative Business Development Consultant)
You finally decided to follow your passion and adventure into the business of beauty and cosmetics. Your formula and products selection are set, the brand is defined, labels are ready, marketing is happening, fans are following, and perhaps you even have products on the shelf of fabulous retail shops. You got this! But, how do you know that your cosmetic products claims are also in good shape?
Claims are a great tool for marketing and communicating the intended purpose of your product, but they are also highly regulated in many markets such as in Europe, the United States, and Canada, with the intention to avoid any misleading advertising or false guidance to the consumer.
Every year, I see an increasing number of cosmetic brands launching with amazing products, while having to put a hold in sales losing lots of money and hard work due to government reprimands, simply because they did not know that there are do’s and don’ts regarding the use of claimings for cosmetics. You can see a list of great companies dealing with claiming issues here (click “here”). Do take a look, not to judge, but to understand what was wrong and how to avoid similar mistakes.
Now, even though spotting these details comes easily for me after working in regulated environment for more than 16 years, I still remember how confusing and frustrating the rules and guidelines can be at the beginning. I also see that most of the material out there mentions what not to do, but that they do a poor job guiding you on how to do it instead or using an unscripted language for the average audience. In addition, most of the compliance consulting agencies pricing structure is way out of alignment with the small business budget.
Therefore, I will do my best to provide a condensed and short guide including a helpful list of claims that you can easily apply to various cosmetic products the right way.
First, what is a claim?
A claim’s purpose is to describe the effects of the products, helping the consumer to choose a product, or simply to make the product more appealing than the competition. Cosmetic claims are usually utilized to market the final product. They can appear on the primary label, ads, magazines, website, etc.
Examples: “reduces the appearance of wrinkles”, “moisturizer”, “reduce the look of age spot.”
How do I know if I am in compliance?
Simple – it is all about the intended use of your product.
According to the EU (European Union) cosmetic regulation, a cosmetic product is: “Any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips, and external genital organs), or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly cleaning them, perfuming them changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odors”.
In the United States, a cosmetic is defined as “intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance”. Also, a drug is defined as “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals”.
Basically, a cosmetic is intended to alter the appearance of the use and to beautifying. And yes, we love it as it is!
If the claim goes beyond this use, it is no longer a cosmetic.
My claims might be at risk: How can I fix it?
There are many other ways to tell the story of your amazing product without falling into the drug category. Unless you do want to keep the claim, in that case you need to register your product as a new drug and follow all your local regulatory requirements for new drug development.
By the European Commission Regulation (EU) No 655/2013, claims on cosmetic products should conform to the following common criteria:
- Legal compliance – Claims which convey the idea of a specific benefit when this
benefit is mere compliance with minimum legal requirements.
- Truthfulness – A claimed specific ingredient shall be deliberately present.
- Evidential support – Must be supported by adequate and verifiable evidence.
- Honesty – Claims must not exceed supporting evidence.
- Fairness – Claims should be objective and not denigrate the competitors, nor should they denigrate ingredients that are legally used. Examples include “free of parabens, mineral oils, synthetics,” etc.
- Informed decision-making – Claims should be clear and understandable to the average end user.
Even though the cosmetics regulations vary in each country and the EU alone has a stricter list of requirements, claims are regulated in a very similar way across the globe. Therefore, the table below is a helpful list to develop your claims the right way.
Note: The following list of claims are a collection of different markets cosmetic guidelines and is not strictly considered a standard to work on every market. The regulatory agencies will evaluate the claim beyond these words and by a specific product. Some claims might be acceptable for hair (non-living tissue) but not for a skin moisturizer. I strongly advise to always check with your local authorities for their view on claims or to contact a professional service to review it for you.
Cosmetic Claims: Do’s and Don’ts
*these claims remain ok by adding specific detail of use in an external area of the body (hair/skin). If left too short or without specifying where, it will be considered vague and open to interpretation of a possible physiological interaction. Therefore, it won’t be accepted.
Other Marketing Claims
These kinds of claims are widely used across many markets. And from small to the bigger brands, are also constantly used wrongly. Why they do it, some markets are stricter than others enforcing the rules, others simply do not have enough Laboral force to go through each of them. That doesn’t mean they could not still do it and surprise you anytime.
These claims might be regulated by the same cosmetic regulatory agencies or through other groups, like Federal Trade and Commission (in the USA), Competition Bureau in Canada, or any other group overseeing consumer rights and media.
|In order for a product to say 100% organic or organic, it must have been certified and approved to carry a seal by a recognized standard for organic certification body such as USDA, COSMOS, Ecocert, among others. If the product doesn’t comply with this, it can mention that it contains organic ingredients, but not to refer as an organic product (as a collective) in the principal label, primary packaging, or general marketing.
Same applies to any other recognized certification bodies.
For natural, it is still not a regulated claim in many countries.. However, you can’t use a trademarked label or stamp for independent natural certification groups.
|There type of claims are very common and a strong marketing point today. It is allowed in many markets such as United States and Canada but still .
However, it is not allowed in European market and it is becoming the “hot topic” since most of these claims using “free from,” will be forced to be removed by July 1st of 2019.
|Hypoallergenic||In the United States, it is not required to provide substantial evidence by the FDA about this claim. In Canada it’s neither legal or scientific claim. However, other markets such as EU, have a new revised Annex IV, and mention that the claim “hypoallergenic,” can only be used in cases where the cosmetic product has been designed to minimize its allergenic potential. The responsible person should have evidence to support the claim.|
|“Made in”||Most laws or policies require that in order to use this claim, the product must be manufactured 100% (or most significant parts) in the mentioned country.|
|Endorsements||Any advertising message that consumers are likely to believe that reflect the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party, other than the sponsoring advertiser. The endorser may be an individual, group, or institution.
Recommended/Developed by Doctors/Dermatologist/etc.
|Environmental Marketing||Whether your environmental claims are about the product or the packaging, you’ll need reliable evidence to support what you say.|
Note: this is a selected list of marketing claims and does not represent and exhaustive list of potential marketing claims.
So, now that you know a little bit more about how to use claims, go ahead and do a self-audit assessment to your brand across your product labels, marketing, and even clients testimonial. Yes, you can also be found guilty by third party claims regarding your products. In that case, just have a chat with your customers, educate them and together, rephrase the message with the help of this article.
If you still have more questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and request a 15-20 minutes complimentary micro audit.
You can also find me on my small close Facebook group, where I love to share these topics along many DIY and other creative business topics.
- US FDA Cosmetics Claims Reference
- EU Cosmetics Regulations
- EU Cosmetic/ Renditions
- Federal Trading Commission (USA)
- US FDA Cosmetics Claims
- Organic Consumers
- Guidelines for Cosmetic Advertising and Labeling Claims (CA)
About the author
Maribel is the owner of Maribel’s Creative Solutions, an independent business that specializes in training, consulting and coaching company in Chicago, Illinois. She is also the Founder of the beauty brand MareLuna essentials. Maribel has a degree in chemical engineering and also consults for Fortune 500 companies in the field of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, biotechnology, OTC and cosmetics.
Connect with Maribel: @marelunas
Connect on Linkedin
Read Maribel’s full bio here.