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Brussels, 11 March 2005

How long can I use my sunscreen after opening?

There will be no more doubts regarding risks linked to the conservation of a beauty cream, sunscreen or a shampoo. From today, cosmetic products with a durability of more than 30 month will have to indicate the time period the product may be used after opening. The motivation behind this initiative is to better inform consumers, given some cosmetics can deteriorate after opening and be possibly harmful to the consumer. This information will be labelled on products by means of a symbol representing an open beauty cream jar followed by the period of use after opening. In addition, as from today the labelling of 26 substances used as perfume and aromatic composition in cosmetic products will be mandatory as these substances may be allergenic. Until now they have only been mentioned in the list of ingredients of cosmetic products under the title ‘parfum’ or 'aroma'. This new labelling requirement will allow consumers to identify substances they are allergic to.

Commission Vice-President, Günter Verheugen said: “This initiative is good for consumers and industry. Consumers get clear information about the product they buy and use. And the EU cosmetics industry benefits from coherent rules, as the new labelling is uniformly implemented in the internal market.”

Until now, there has been no information concerning the ‘use within’ period for conservation of a product when it was more than 30 months old (there was only the mention of the minimum durability when it was less than 30 months).

Thanks to this new symbol, the consumer will be then informed of the period during which the product can be kept after opening in cases where the product could be harmful to the consumer.

This new labelling requirement results from the Directive adopted in February 2003 by the European Parliament and the Council amending legislation on cosmetic products (see IP/03/55).

To ensure a uniform interpretation of this new requirement, the European Commission has drafted guidelines ( in co-operation with representatives of Member States, Consumer Protection Organisations and the Cosmetics Industry.

The decision to adopt a common “jar symbol” was made to allow rapid identification and avoid complications of a written explanation (need for translation and lack of space on packaging that often tends to be very small). It was also agreed that if the ‘use within’ period of a product is expressed in months the letter ‘M’ can be used.

For products which were put on the market before 11 March 2005 this measure will not apply. Moreover, this labelling will not be on products which do not deteriorate and therefore would not harm the consumer. Products in a sealed container which do not open (sprays) or single-use products are also excluded.

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