Published: 01 December 2020  (Updated: 12 January 2021)

Claims Focus – ASA Ruling on non-Substantiated and Borderline Claims

On 2 December 2020 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) issued a ruling against non-substantiated and borderline claims for skincare products.

Companies are reminded that all cosmetic claims must be substantiated, according to Article 20 of the EU Cosmetics Regulation and the Common Criteria Regulation.  Key points in relation to this ruling are:

  • Literature reviews are usually not sufficient to ensure full substantiation of cosmetic claims.  While they are a useful resource to understand the types of methodologies, tests or how to conduct a thorough assessment on to substantiate claims, they are not exhaustive as the only available demonstration of the effect of a cosmetic product.  This is particularly for claims suggesting strong effects.
  • Claim substantiation has to be conducted in reference to the finished cosmetic product that is available to the consumer.  An investigation on the effects of a single ingredient contained in the product will usually be insufficient.
  • Cumulative or repeated application claims usually suggest strong effects and are complex claims that require a high level of substantiation, combining literature review, instrumental tests, clinicals tests and consumer tests, all designed in a very careful manner.

Companies can access public resources on cosmetic claims, in particular: the CTPA Guide to Advertising Claims and the Cosmetics Europe Compendium on best practices for cosmetic claims.

CTPA would also like to bring to the attention of companies the part of the ruling concerning borderline claims.  There are two other products subject of the rulings making claims about treating and preventing ingrown toenails, and removing warts.  The ASA and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reiterated that ingrown nails and warts are adverse conditions and therefore the claims related are medicinal claims and not cosmetic claims.

Companies can access more information on how to assess whether a product is a cosmetic in this public news.

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