Cosmetic labelling


In the EU cosmetic products have several symbols. Some of them are mandatory by the EU Cosmetic Regulation No. 1223/2009, others are voluntary. The most common symbols are:

  • Related to its stability. In this case, you can find the Period After Opening or Hourglass Symbol.

Expiry Date – Hourglass Symbol: Some products may include an expiration date to indicate the date until which the product is expected to remain stable and effective. This can be represented by the letters “EXP” or with an hourglass symbol followed by the expiration date.

The cosmetic regulation says in article 19: “Indication of the date of minimum durability shall not be mandatory for cosmetic products with a minimum durability of more than 30 months. For such products, there shall be an indication of the period of time after opening for which the product is safe and can be used without any harm to the consumer.”

Period After Opening (PAO) Symbol: This symbol indicates the recommended period for which the product remains suitable for use after opening. It is represented by an open jar icon with a number followed by the letter “M” (months).

  • Related to caution

Flammable Symbol: Warns consumers that the product is flammable and should be kept away from sources of heat or flame. This symbol can be found on the labels of products such as perfumes and aerosols.

Aerosols also include an inverted epsilon symbol which means that the product is compliant with Directive 75/324/EEC (aerosol dispensers directive).

  • Related to additional information

The most common is an open book symbol. This symbol may denote that additional information or instructions are provided inside the packaging or on accompanying leaflets.

  • Related to certificates or specific testing that has been done on the product.

Examples: SPF products with UVA symbol, ECOCERT or COSMOS certified products, etc.

  • Related to content

The “e” symbol is the Estimated symbol. This symbol indicates that the manufacturer complies with the EU Directive 76/211/EEC. It is followed by a number representing the net weight or volume of the product.

  • Related to recycling of the product

The recycling symbol on cosmetic products serves to indicate whether the packaging material is recyclable and to identify the type of material used. This symbol is typically a triangular arrow symbol with a number inside, representing the type of plastic used for the packaging.

To this group, we can also include the “Plastic in product” symbol which we can find on cosmetic wipes that contain plastic and cannot be flushed in the toilet.

  • Other country-specific symbol

Some countries in the EU have specific requirements and therefore additional symbols that apply to certain products. Example: Triman logo symbol. It is a symbol used in France to indicate that a product’s packaging is subject to recycling regulations. It features a silhouette of a person dropping a package into a recycling bin. This symbol aims to raise awareness about recycling and encourage consumers to properly dispose of packaging materials.

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