Free From Ingredients?

“Annoys me when brands only list the ingredients they want you to see on their website.”

So wrote @LippyBBlogger, who blogs at Been There, Done That, Got The Lipstick, during last week’s #whatsorganic Twitter chat, co-ordinated, chaired and hosted by Essential Care’s Abi, and Sugarpuffish’s Sarah.

We couldn’t agree more. The absence of full listings of ingredients for products on websites is not only annoying to those who look for particular ingredients in their products – perhaps a favoured botanical – but also is deeply frustrating to those who need to avoid certain ingredients due to allergy or sensitivity, or who want to avoid them due to ethical, health, environmental or religious concerns. Without a full listing of ingredients, how can consumers check on the ‘free from’ status for their personal undesirables?

The issue has been brought to the fore even more in the last week, since the news emerged concerning the ‘epidemic’ of eczema caused by two preservatives, MI and MCI/MI, which we wrote about a few days ago. In the days since that news, we have received a number of press releases from skincare manufacturers touting their ‘free from MI and MCI/MI’ status. This is all well and good for established ‘free from’ brands, who are transparent about their ingredients, and clear about the ingredients they do not use too.

But not all brands are as clear as they could be. One brand, which we had not come across before, and were actually very interested in, was keen to boast it was free from the two preservatives and indeed some other ingredients, and of its potentially excellent natural credentials, but when we checked its website, failed to include full listings of ingredients for any of its products, and did not state any ‘free from’ attributes either. The title of the press release was – we kid you not – “Do you really know what’s in your face cream?”

‘Free from’ claims are not a bandwagon on which manufacturers or their PRs should feel they can jump on when the issue becomes topical. They are here to stay, and are vital to those with sensitive skin and many other reasons too. Please – include your ingredients on your sites, state your ‘free from’ credentials, and most of all, don’t try to capitalise on a topical subject without giving full thought to all potential consumers out there.


  1. Hazel Gowland

    (Warning: long legal post!)
    We need to ensure that we are protected in law eg Cosmetic Products Safety Regulations from
    All cosmetic products supplied in the UK, whether for consumer or professional use, must comply with the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2008 (as amended). From 13 July 2013 (this week) a new directly applicable European Regulation (EC/1223/2009) enters into force, replacing the existing legislation.
    EU Law
    The presentation of a cosmetic product and in particular its form, odour, colour, appearance, packaging, labelling, volume or size should not endanger health and safety of consumers due to confusion with foodstuffs, in accordance with Council Directive 87/357/EEC of 25 June 1987 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States concerning products which, appearing to be other than they are, endanger the health or safety of consumers(1)
    OJ L 192, 11.7.1987, p. 49. (1).
    And (46)
    Transparency is needed regarding the ingredients used in cosmetic products. Such transparency should be achieved by indication of the ingredients used in a cosmetic product on its packaging. Where for practical reasons it is impossible to indicate the ingredients on the packaging, such information should be enclosed so that the consumer has access to this information.

    Also (49)
    A number of substances have been identified by the SCCS as likely to cause allergic reactions and it will be necessary to restrict their use and/or impose certain conditions concerning them. In order to ensure that consumers are adequately informed, the presence of these substances should be mentioned in the list of ingredients and consumers’ attention should be drawn to the presence of these ingredients. This information should improve the diagnosis of contact allergies among consumers and should enable them to avoid the use of cosmetic products which they do not tolerate. For substances which are likely to cause allergy to a significant part of the population, other restrictive measures such as a ban or a restriction of concentration should be considered.
    ARTICLE 19 covers the need to provide full ingredients information
    Without prejudice to other provisions in this Article, cosmetic products shall be made available on the market only where the container and packaging of cosmetic products bear the following information in indelible, easily legible and visible lettering:
    (g) a list of ingredients.
    DEFINITIONS Cosmetic products may include creams, emulsions, lotions, gels and oils for the skin, face masks, tinted bases (liquids, pastes, powders), make-up powders, after-bath powders, hygienic powders, toilet soaps, deodorant soaps, perfumes, toilet waters and eau de Cologne, bath and shower preparations (salts, foams, oils, gels), depilatories, deodorants and anti-perspirants, hair colorants, products for waving, straightening and fixing hair, hair-setting products, hair-cleansing products (lotions, powders, shampoos), hair-conditioning products (lotions, creams, oils), hairdressing products (lotions, lacquers, brilliantines), shaving products (creams, foams, lotions), make-up and products removing make-up, products intended for application to the lips, products for care of the teeth and the mouth, products for nail care and make-up, products for external intimate hygiene, sunbathing products, products for tanning without sun, skin–whitening products and anti-wrinkle products.
    Also HAIR DYES

  2. Cath

    Good point about a very important issue. A real irritant of mine. How can consumers be ensured of the safety of their product without a clear and explicit declaration of its contents?!

    1. admin (Post author)

      Well, exactly – that’s how we feel! We can’t believe it’s that difficult to put ingredients up – although since I posted the blog, one company has claimed to not have the resources / time to do so … and another manufacturer was very defensive about being questioned over theirs. We’re slightly boggled by it!

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