The labeling of cosmetic products provides a set of obligations, as reported in the Regulation 1223/2009, which came into force in Europe in July 2013. The indications reported on the label are intended to enable the clear identification of the functionality and proper use of cosmetics, ensure the protection of the consumer from the commercial aspects and, above all, from the safety point of view. Moreover, it should allow quick tracing of the product details and all info of toxicological relevance. However, the misuse of this tool often leads, on one side, to confusion among cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and biocides. On the other side, it gives rise to fanciful interpretations by a huge number of web users, who pretend to be able to judge the quality of a cosmetic product just by reading the ingredients list. This article points out the concrete purpose of cosmetic labels, in order to shed light on the use of certain categories of ‘controversial’ ingredients and on the real quality concepts of cosmetic products. Indeed, when properly interpreted, cosmetic labels represent a good tool for the professional investigation of adverse reactions to cosmetics.
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