The cosmetic products we use daily, such as moisturisers, 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 that appear on the packaging of a cosmetic product in order to be able to make informed choices when making a purchase.

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 European Union regulations. This means manufacturers must follow strict manufacturing protocols and subject their products to safety testing before releasing them to market. Also, the law provides that the packaging of a cosmetic product includes several important legal elements.

It should be noted that the law provides that certain information must always be on the primary packaging (flacon, pot, bottle, etc.), while others may or may not be on the secondary packaging (coffee, plastic, 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". Each company selling products in the European Union or Switzerland must have a DIP for each product. This rigor provides substantial protection to consumers and European law is one of the strictest in the world on this subject.

Primary packaging

Several elements must imperatively be present on the primary packaging, in other words vial, 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

Secondary packaging

The elements below must be present on the secondary packaging, i.e. 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

Product name and list of ingredients (INCI)

The name of the product must be clearly displayed on the packaging, as well as the ingredients that compose it, listed in descending order of their weight on the INCI list (the list of ingredients), that is to say that the he most present ingredient in the product must be the first in the list and therefore the least present ingredient last. It is for this reason that most 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 of our product “ Face lifting gel + gel serum ».

Expiry date and period after opening (PAO)

The packaging should also include an expiry date or shelf life. This date is determined by the manufacturer and indicates the period during which the product is considered safe and effective to use.

Expiration date

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

The duration of the conversation

Also referred to as "Period after opening" or "PAO", by an open jar symbol with a number followed by an "M" (eg, 6M, 12M, 24M, 36M), indicating the number of months during which the product safe to use after opening. It means that the product can be kept indefinitely, provided it has not been opened.

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

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

  • 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 should protect the product against microbial contamination for 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 associated with the latter. (e.g. a pot in which the user puts his fingers increases the risk of contamination)

Usage tips

The packaging must also include information on precautions of use, such as safety warnings, instructions for appropriate use and information on counter-indications. This information is essential to ensure consumer safety and must be easily readable and understood.

Batch traceability

The packaging must contain batch and serial numbers. This information allows manufacturers to trace products in case of safety or quality problems.

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

This information must necessarily 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.

Other regulations

The European law also provides full parameters that allow for standardization of the indications of cosmetic products, for example:

Editing texts and icons

Texts must respect a certain size, some spacing, capitals/minuscules and punctuations.

Efficacy claims

Each claim (called "egation"), for example "Hydrotes and soothes intensely" must be tested. 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.

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

As such, Grangettes Switzerland recommends the use of the YUKA cosmetic analysis application, which allows you to scan the barcode and obtain a rating for each of the ingredients. When designing our products, we pay attention to exclude any harmful or potentially unhealthy ingredients.

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

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

In summary, cosmetic products sold in Europe are subject to strict regulations to 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 name of the product, the ingredients, the expiry date, the precautions for use and the batch and serial numbers. Consumers must be informed of these elements in order to make informed purchasing choices and report any problem encountered with a cosmetic product to the competent authorities.