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Essential oils for cosmetic use: the French DGCCRF issues a reminder of the rules

Huiles essentielles à usage cosmétique : la DGCCRF rappelle les règles

In a communication published on 15 December 2023, the DGCCRF (Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control) warns consumers of the risks of misusing essential oils. It also takes the opportunity to remind that essential oils can rarely be considered as cosmetic products…

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“Caution”, warns the DGCCRF in the preamble to its communication, “although essential oils are of natural origin, they are not without risk! They are active concentrates that can be dangerous if used incorrectly.”
And while the message is aimed primarily at consumers, the regulatory points covered are also useful for professionals. Selected extracts.

The basics of regulation

Applicable regulations
Essential oils must not be presented without a specific function. It is the responsibility of the person responsible for placing them on the market to inform consumers of the instructions and precautions for use (Article L. 111-1 of the Consumer Code).
It is therefore the purpose (cosmetic, food, etc.) stated by the manufacturer that determines the applicable regulations and consequently the requirements that the product must meet.

Classified EOs
Although essential oils are reputed to be natural, with toning, soothing and other properties, they are in fact highly concentrated chemical compounds that can be harmful if they are not used with care. The European Union classifies some of them as dangerous substances (CLP Regulation 1272/2008) and requires clear information to be provided to consumers.

Any claim suggesting that an over-the-counter essential oil can prevent or treat a disease is prohibited. …

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