New ‘Free From’ EU Legislation

On July 3rd 2017 the EU legislation that regulates cosmetic claims was amended to incorporate new information in the form of 2 Annex’s regarding the use of ‘FREE FROM’ claims made on cosmetics.


This new legislation comes into effect on the 1st July 2019.

Does it impact you?

The regulation becomes more restrictive, importantly it affects claims stating “free-from”, each claim made on the label should be substantiated.

It affects claims that products do not contain certain substances such as dyes, parabens, therefore meaning that ‘Paraben Free’ (or similar) claims are no longer acceptable. 

In short, the guidance is that if an ingredient is legal for use, it is forbidden to claim the product is free from it.

Is your product labelling affected?

If you make any ‘Free From’ claims you will need to review the labelling and remove these claims if they fall into any of the categories explained below.

You can no longer claim Free from an ingredient that is not legally allowed.

For example, heavy metals are prohibited by the EU cosmetics regulation.  You are not permitted to convey that there is a benefit to not having a specific ingredient when the absence is merely a compliance to legal requirements.

You can no longer state that your product is free from an ingredient that is not supposed to be present in the product.

An example of this would be a bath bomb.  You can no longer claim that bath bombs & bath salts are ‘Free from a preservative’ this is not because they do not contain a preservative, but because they do not require a preservative.  To claim that a bath bomb is free from preservatives is misleading, and as such not allowed.

‘Preservative free’ is no longer allowed as a claim if the product contains an ingredient, not in the official list of preservatives (Annex V) but having antimicrobial properties.  Until now materials with anti-microbial properties not in Annex V could be used to justify this claim (such as Caprylyl Glycol, Phenyl Propanol, and others), this is no longer the case.

You can no longer state Fragrance free if the product contains an ingredient that exerts a perfuming function, regardless of its other possible functions in the product. 

You can no longer claim: ‘Free from an ingredient that is legally used.

For example, you can no longer claim ‘Free from parabens’ even if you are using a paraben free preservative. 

Remember the statement underlined above?

As long as the ingredient is legal for use, this claim is forbidden.

You can no longer claim ‘Free from an ingredient or ingredients category that are present in the product.

For example, you are no longer permitted to claim that your product is Free from allergenic / sensitizing substances.  As a complete absence of the risk of an allergic reaction cannot be guaranteed and the product should not give the impression that it does.

What is allowed?

You can however still use Free from claims that allow an informed choice to a specific target group or groups of end users.

Products aimed at Vegan consumers are still permitted, for example: Free from animal derived ingredients.  These claims are permitted as they are an integral part of products and shall contain information allowing the end user to make an informed choice.

4 thoughts on “New ‘Free From’ EU Legislation

  1. Excellent article, thank you. I was aware of this, but it’s very useful.

    Does it just apply to the labelling or extend to websites as well?

    1. Hi Jan,

      We are just looking into this for you and will get back to you ASAP.

      Kind regards.

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