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free claims: deciphering the truth from the false

“Free” claims, like all claims related to a cosmetic product, must comply with the 6 common criteria defined by Regulation (EU) No 655/2013.
Since the entry into force in July 2019 of the European Commission’s technical document, and the ARPP recommendation on cosmetic products (version 8), the cosmetic industry can use certain “free” claims within a clearly regulated framework:

1/ Prohibited “free” claims:

  • Without” + prohibited substances or characteristics imposed by the regulation. E.g.: not tested on animals (because animal testing is prohibited by the Cosmetic Regulation);
  • Without” + unverifiable information. E.g.: without endocrine disruptors (because there is no official definition of what an endocrine disruptor is);
  • Without” + regulated or authorised substances because the claim is considered to be disparaging and the consumer who seeks to avoid this substance is sufficiently informed to check its presence in the INCI of the product’s ingredients;
  • the “Without” + family of substances, some of which are prohibited and others authorised. Ex: paraben-free.

2/ Tolerated “free” claims: the authorities confirm that certain “free” claims are tolerated insofar as they provide useful information to people (according to their pathology, their conviction, their lifestyle, etc.). For example: alcohol-free, fragrance-free, GMO-free. This assessment is to be made on a case-by-case basis by the company.