Have you ever bought a shower gel? Like millions of French people, you will answer yes to this question. Yes, you have found yourself in the cosmetics section of a supermarket. You stood there a few minutes. Long minutes. You did not know which product to choose. Almond or passion fruit scent? Then you read the packaging of the products you were interested in. Your choice fell on the product which bears the mention “paraben free” because you imagine that it does not contain toxic substances, that it is “good for health”. You bought it. And you keep doing it.
Like many other French consumers, you let yourself be seduced by the marketing of “without” (eg: “without silicones”, “without sulphates”). These mentions represented 20% of the claims on cosmetics, according to a 2016 report from the Commission of the European Parliament and the Council. And cosmetic products are not the only ones concerned, food products have also long since succumbed to this trend (“without additives, without colorings”, “fed without GMOs” or “without palm oil”) which reassures consumers and rush their buying decisions.
In 2017, sales of “paraben-free” products increased by 2.3% compared to 2016, while sales of cosmetics fell by 0.9%, recalls the study The future of beauty carried out in 2018 by Nielsen. These mentions are not always justified and may even appear absurd, if one dwells on them. Reading the packaging of a “preservative-free” perfume does not make sense, because the perfume is not a product that contains preservatives given its alcohol content.
In order to put an end to marketing techniques intended to mislead consumers, the regulations have changed since Monday, July 1.
Two texts – the European Technical Document on Cosmetic Claims and the 8th French ARPP cosmetic product recommendation – now prohibit the use of a large majority of “free” claims. Mention which will be replaced by “with such ingredient” to “contribute to a positive image of cosmetic products”, we read on the ARPP website.