The 'free from' conundrum

Carmen Paun and Méabh McMahon report from 2014’s Cosmetics Europe conference, which stressed that the beauty industry needs to beware of claims which could give consumers the wrong impression

The European cosmetics industry should steer away from claiming its products are ‘free from’ preservatives and other similar ingredients, which could give consumers the wrong impression, the annual conference organised by Cosmetics Europe in Brussels on 10-11 June heard.

“All that preservative-free claims do in the long term is to reinforce the stigmatisation of preservatives, since consumers believe they are wrong,” said Martin Seychell, Deputy Director-General for Health and Consumers at the European Commission.

He argued that preservatives have an important role to play. “Many cosmetic products remain in consumer homes for months and their microbiological stability is important,” Seychell explained, adding, “nobody talks about this”.

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