Advertising code for cosmetic products (RCP)
1. General Provisions Scope
The present advertising code applies to advertising in the sense of Article 1 of the Dutch Advertising code for cosmetic products specifically targeted at cosmetic products marketed in the Netherlands. This code does not alter the rules of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products and the Commission Regulation (EU) No 655/2013 of 10 July 2013 laying down common criteria for the justification of claims used in relation to cosmetic products. Nor does this code alter the misleading advertising rule as stated in Articles 7 and 8 of the general part of the Dutch Advertising Code.
a. Cosmetic products: any substance or mixture within the meaning of (EC) Regulation 1223/2009 intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours.
b. Minor: individual under the age of 18.
c. Child: individual of 12 and younger.
d. Claim regarding cosmetic products: communication with the principal goal of informing end users about the characteristics and qualities of the products.
2. General Conditions
The following conditions apply to claims:
Claims that state that the product has been authorized or approved by a competent authority within the European Union are not allowed.
Claims which convey the idea that a product has a specific benefit when this benefit is mere compliance with minimum legal requirements are not allowed.
If a product states that it contains a specific ingredient, said ingredient must actually be contained.
Claims referring to the properties of a specific ingredient shall not imply that the finished product has the same properties when it does not.
Presentations of a product’s performance shall not go beyond the available supporting evidence.
Claims shall not attribute to the product concerned specific (i.e. unique) characteristics if similar products possess the same characteristics.
If the action of a product is linked to specific conditions, such as use in association with other products, this shall be clearly stated.
Claims shall not denigrate any ingredients used in a legal manner.
Claims shall be clear and understandable to the average end user of the cosmetic product.
3. Evidential Support of Likelihood of Claimed Effect
Claims regarding cosmetic products, both explicitly and implicitly, shall be substantiated with adequate and verifiable evidence, if necessary, including assessments by experts and any other information which is comprised in the Product Information File as referred to in Article 11 of (EC) Regulation 1223/2009. This requirement does not apply if the average consumer understands that it clearly concerns exaggeration which will not be taken literally by him or if it concerns statements of an abstract nature. When assessing whether the claimed effect is adequately substantiated and its likelihood is proven, account shall be taken of Commission Regulation (EU) No 655/2013 of 10 July 2013 laying down common criteria for the justification of claims used in relation to cosmetic products and the associated Directives .
When substantiating claims account shall be taken of the state of the art. The acceptability of a claim shall be assessed on the basis of evidential support of all studies, data and information available depending on the nature of the claim and the general common knowledge of the end users.
Where studies are used as evidence, they shall be relevant to the product and the benefit the product claims. Moreover, the studies shall follow well-designed, well-conducted methodologies (valid, reliable and reproducible) and shall respect ethical considerations.
Next to the information stated in the preceding paragraphs an advertiser shall be able to submit statements of one or more experts as evidence of the claimed effect based on such information, in the event of challenge of the claimed effect. Such statement(s) shall give insight into the manner of review by the expert(s) of the data and the relationship of the expert(s) with the advertiser. If the Advertising Code Committee does not find the statement(s) of the expert(s) adequate or sufficiently convincing, it can require further substantiation and/or give the advertiser an order for further proof.
The level of evidence or substantiation to be furnished shall be consistent with the type of claim being made, in particular for claims where lack of efficacy may cause a safety problem.
A claim extrapolating (explicitly or implicitly) ingredient properties to the finished product shall be supported by adequate and verifiable evidence, for instance by demonstrating the presence of the ingredient at an effective concentration.
To communicate brand identity and the specific benefits of the product pre- and post-production techniques (digital techniques) for embellishing pictures are in principle allowed in commercial communications on the following conditions:
a. The advertiser shall ensure that the presentation of the performance of an advertised product is not misleading. Not misleading are considered the use of a clearly exaggerated or styled picture without any serious meaning or being purely illustrative and the use of techniques for embellishment, regardless of the product or the advertised effect.
b. Digital techniques shall not alter any pictures of models in such manner that an unrealistic presentation is made of the results to be achieved with the product.
c. Models and digital techniques used in commercial communications shall not suggest that a specific body-shape is preferable, or promote extreme thinness.
d. Digital techniques, such as photo-shopping, shall not suggest that the product has characteristics or functions it does not have.
5. Testimonials and Expert Statements
Testimonials and expert statements shall meet Articles 9 and 10 of the Dutch Advertising Code, as well as the provisions of the Advertising Code for Social Media.
Testimonials cannot individually serve as substantiation of the efficacy of the product.
It is allowed to use testimonials of celebrities and consumers, if such testimonials are presented as a personal opinion or impression of the product, and do not (also) suggest a special expertise. Testimonials shall not be seen as evidence of efficacy of the product; this can only be decided on the basis of adequate and appropriate evidence.
Reference to expert statements in advertising is only allowed if such experts can actually state or testify regarding the field in which they are considered experts.
If claims are made regarding the environment, then the Code for environmental advertising also applies.
7. Children and Minors
If the advertising is directed, in full or in part, at a child or minor, then the Code for advertising directed at Children and Young People also applies in full.
Advertising is allowed for cosmetic products which are specially developed for minors, if they do not contribute to precocious sexual awareness of minors.
Entry into Effect and Evaluation
This code enters into effect on 1 January 2015. The code will be evaluated in two years time.