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INCI list, shelf life, standards to respect… Discover all the keys to correctly understanding the information on cosmetic packaging!

 

THE cosmetic products that we use daily, such as moisturizers, concealer creams and lotions, are subject to strict regulations in Europe. These rules aim to protect consumers by guaranteeing the quality and safety of products.

 

It is important to understand the different legal elements which appear on the packaging of a cosmetic product to be able to make informed choices when making a purchase. So what information is essential? Do the indications allow you to know if a product is of good quality? We tell you everything!

Laurent Troillet
Laurent Troillet
Co-director @ Grangettes Switzerland
summary of the article

Strict standards

First of all, it is important to know that all cosmetic products sold in Europe and Switzerland must comply with the safety and quality standards established by the regulations of theEuropean Union. This means that manufacturers must follow strict manufacturing protocols and submit their products to safety testing before releasing them to the market. Also, the law provides that the packaging of a cosmetic product contains several important legal elements.

 

Note that the law provides that certain information must always appear on primary packaging (vial, pot, bottle, etc.), while others may or may not appear on the secondary packaging (cardboard, plastic cases, etc.).

 

All these elements, as well as the recipes, the manufacturing method, the tests carried out etc. must be compiled into a file, called the “Product Information File” or “DIP”. Every company selling products in the European Union or Switzerland must have a DIP for each product. This rigor provides significant protection to consumers and European law is one of the strictest in the world on this subject.

Primary packaging

Several elements must be present on primary packaging, in other words flask, bottle, jar, etc. :

  • The product name
  • The list of ingredients, in descending order of their weight
  • Expiry date or shelf life
  • Precautions for use, safety warnings and contraindications
  • The name and address of the manufacturer or importer
  • The batch or serial number
  • The weight or volume of the product
  • Country of origin or place of manufacture
comprendre-emballages-cosmetiques

    Secondary packaging

    The elements below must be present on the secondary packaging, in other words case, cardboard packaging, etc. :

    • The product name
    • The name and address of the manufacturer or importer

    The following elements must only be present if they are not present on the primary packaging:

    • The list of ingredients
    • Precautions for use, safety warnings and contraindications
    • The batch or serial number
    • The weight or volume of the product
    • Country of origin or place of manufacture
    • Open book icon
    comprendre-emballages-cosmetiques

      Product name and list of ingredients (INCI)

      The name of the product must be clearly displayed on the packaging, as well as the ingredients it contains, listed in descending order of their weight on the INCI list (the list of ingredients), that is to say that the ingredient most present in the product must be the first in the list and therefore the ingredient least present last. It is for this reason that most of creams have AQUA as the first ingredient on the INCI list, except for waterless or so-called “anhydrous” creams, as is the case for the serum in our product “ Face lift serum + gel ».

      creme_anti_age_visage
      anti-ageing face cream
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      42,50 €
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      serum_gel_liftants_visage
      face lifting serum + gel
      Regular price
      85,00 €
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      85,00 €
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       per 
      20ml + 30ml
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      Expiry date and period after opening (PAO)

      The packaging must also include a expiration date or a shelf life. This date is determined by the manufacturer and indicates the period of time the product is considered safe and effective to use.

      Expiration date

      Date after which the product is no longer suitable for consumption and must be thrown away, regardless of whether it has been opened or not. It must not exceed 30 months for most cosmetic products.

      comprendre-emballages-cosmetiques

      The duration of the conversation

      Also called " Period after opening » or “PAO”, by an open pot symbol with a number followed by an “M” (par exemple, 6M, 12M, 24M, 36M), indicating the number of months during which the product can be used without risk after opening. It means that the product can be kept indefinitely, provided that it has not been opened.

       

      In order to to obtain a PAO, a product must have previously demonstrated its physicochemical and microbiological stability for a period of more than 30 months.

       

      THE storage conditions must be indicated on the container and packaging to ensure that the minimum shelf life is guaranteed.

       

      There are several accepted methods for calculating this duration, because each type of product requires specific approaches. Here are some tests carried out:

      • Product stability : evaluation of the physical, chemical and microbiological stability of the product under normal storage conditions
      • Formulation : evaluation of the composition of the product (preservatives, antioxidants, etc.). Preservatives must protect the product against microbial contamination throughout the duration of use.
      • Conditioning : evaluation of the protection offered by the packaging used, against exposure to air, light and contaminants (hermetic, porous, opacity, with or without air, etc.).
      • Terms of use : evaluation of the method of application of the product and the risks of contamination linked to it. (e.g. a pot in which the user puts their fingers increases the risk of contamination)
      comprendre-emballages-cosmetiques

        Usage tips

        The packaging must also include information on precautions for use, such as the safety warnings, instructions for proper use and information on contraindications. This information is essential to ensure consumer safety and must be easily readable and understood.

        Batch traceability

        The packaging must include batch and serial numbers. This information allows manufacturers to trace products if there are any safety or quality issues.

        Weight, volume, country of origin and/or place of manufacture

        This information must appear on the primary packaging of the product. In our case, we also had to indicate the name and address of the company responsible for our products within the European Union, a mandatory element for Swiss companies wishing to sell their products there.

        Other regulations

        European law also provides for many parameters which allow standardization of indications for cosmetic products, for example:

        • Editing texts and icons : the texts must respect a certain size, a certain spacing, upper/lower case letters and punctuation.
        • Efficacy claims : each claim (called “ allegation ), for example “Intensely moisturizes and soothes” must be certified by tests. In other words, a claim must be proven by the company if it wishes to print it on its product.

        What should you pay the most attention to?

        In addition to the legal elements mentioned above, consumers must pay particular attention to several pieces of information before making a purchase.

        The list of ingredients

        First, check if the ingredients are suitable for your skin type or specific needs. Also, make sure that none of the ingredients will cause you any allergic reactions or irritations.

        As such, Grangettes Switzerland recommended using the YUKA cosmetic analysis application, which allows you to scan the barcode and obtain a rating for each of the ingredients. When conceptualizing our products, we take care to exclude any harmful or potentially unhealthy ingredients, thanks to our charte 100% clean !

        Sell-by date

        It is also important to check whether the expiration date has not passed: cosmetic products can lose their effectiveness over time and fresh products will guarantee better results.

        Precautions for use

        Finally, don't forget to check if the precautions for use, safety warnings and medical contraindications are suitable for you (e.g. pregnant women, babies, sensitive skin, etc.).

        Labels and certifications

        If you are looking for a cosmetic product, such as face cream, and eye contour gel, shampoo, conditioner, body milk, makeup or even a serum, you can analyze the labels that the brand has. These ensure that you benefit from a good level of quality, but also choose ethical cosmetics that respect the environment, animals, or your health.

        creme_apaisante_visage
        soothing face cream
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        40,20 €
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        40,20 €
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        30ml
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        gel_contour_des_yeux
        eye contour gel
        Regular price
        40,20 €
        Regular price
        Sale price
        40,20 €
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         per 
        20ml
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        lait_regenerant_corps
        regenerating body milk
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        40,20 €
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        40,20 €
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        200ml
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        It is notably from the label PETA Cruelty free and Vegan, which assures you that no ingredient from the INCI list has not been tested on animals, and that the composition is 100% free from animal products.

         

        The role of label PETA is multiple: it consists first of all of protect the rights and welfare of animals. This certification also invites awareness among consumers. It allows customers to reflect on the abuses and harms that still exist against animals, and to make more ethical and responsible purchases.

         

        And the label PETA Animal Cruelty Free and Vegan is the most demanding label in terms of animal rights. In the beauty sector, you can find several certifications, such as:

        • PETA animal test-free and vegan
        • PETA animal test-free
        • One Voice
        • Vegan Society
        • Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics
        • Choose Cruelty Free

        On cosmetic packaging, the label PETA Cruelty free and vegan is easily recognized: it takes the form of a little rabbit with pink ears, under which the words “Cruelty Free and Vegan” appears.

        Elements prohibited on cosmetic packaging

        If there are many obligations to be respected when designing cosmetic packaging, there are also certain prohibitions. Indeed, it is prohibited to attribute to cosmetics curative, soothing or preventive properties, such as medicinal, therapeutic properties, disinfectant or anti-inflammatory effects…

         

        In summary, cosmetic products sold in Europe are subject to strict regulations For guarantee quality and consumer safety. It is important to understand the different legal elements present on the packaging of a cosmetic product, such as the product name, ingredients, expiration date, precautions for use and batch and serial numbers. Consumers must be informed of these elements to make informed purchasing choices and report any problems encountered with a cosmetic product to the competent authorities.

         

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