FEBEA: Claire app provides ‘transparent, useful and simple’ detail on cosmetic ingredients

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

FEBEA's app - co-developed with the French Society of Cosmetology (SFC) - uses visual recognition technology to scan the ingredients list for INCI names, rather than the barcode (Image: FEBEA)
FEBEA's app - co-developed with the French Society of Cosmetology (SFC) - uses visual recognition technology to scan the ingredients list for INCI names, rather than the barcode (Image: FEBEA)

Related tags FEBEA Ingredients digital app INCI list Formulation Science

The French Federation for Beauty Companies (FEBEA) says its recently developed digital app Claire will help industry professionals provide consumers with clear and concise ingredient information – ever more important given digital and social trends.

Launched in November 2020, Claire​ had been designed as an ingredient decrypting app to provide “clear, precise and verified information”​ on more than 25,000 ingredients present in cosmetic products. Co-developed with the French Society of Cosmetology (SFC), the app aimed to primarily assist beauty professionals, such as sales consultants, but could also be downloaded directly by consumers.

‘Resolutely different’ to existing beauty consumer apps

FEBEA said Claire ​was “resolutely different”​ from existing cosmetic ingredient scanning apps aimed at the wider public.

This app, it said, offered professionals information on cosmetic ingredients in two ways: either by manually searching an ingredient name or through scanning a product’s ingredient list containing the INCI names, rather than the barcode, thanks to an integrated visual recognition technology. This scanning tech worked on actual packaging but could also scan digital ingredient lists via e-commerce platforms.

“This system makes it possible to know exactly the composition of each product, which is not the case with bar codes: when the composition of a product changes, its bar code does not change. It is therefore not relevant to use to find out the list of ingredients present in a product,”​ FEBEA said.

Importantly, the app did not ‘score’ ingredients or categorise them as good or bad because “such a classification has no scientific basis”, ​the trade association said.

Olivia Guernier, director of communications and public relations at FEBEA, said that instead the app analysed ingredients and provided scientific information, enabling end consumers to make informed choices when choosing cosmetic products.

“We believe it is important for the consumer to understand why an ingredient is used in a formula; what its functions are; and what its origin is. The ingredients list can be scary for a non-expert, but each ingredient plays an important role in the efficiency, quality and safety of the formula,” ​Guernier told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

The app, she said, took one year to develop – largely because of the integrated visual recognition technology and significant ingredient database that needed to be built in. All data provided on the 25,000 ingredients was also constantly enriched and updated, she said.

Beauty industry has a ‘responsibility’ to communicate ingredient info

The overall aim of Claire​, Guernier said, was to provide “transparent, useful and simple”​ information on cosmetic ingredients.

“We must provide a credible answer and restore confidence in cosmetic ingredients and cosmetic formulation. It is clearly part of the industry’s responsibility.”

Bertrand Chuberre, global medical and communications director for L’Oréal Active Cosmetics, shared this sentiment with CosmeticsDesign-Europe back in November 2019​, not long after the beauty major published four scientific reviews assessing the ingredient safety of mineral oils, phenoxyethanol, octocrylene and titanium dioxide nanoparticles in cosmetics. Chuberre said the reviews marked a first step at debunking consumer misinterpretation over ingredients – a rising problem in the fast-paced digital and social world – and that L’Oréal would look into how it could translate this science into “something understandable for each stakeholder” ​in the future.

The company already had a dedicated website Inside Our Products​ covering what ingredients were used in its products and why, along with information on L’Oréal’s wide commitment to safety, but he said it would continue to engage with industry professionals to see what further efforts might be necessary.

Guernier said that, in such a digitally-driven era, it was clear consumers were increasingly turning to apps for insight on food, cleaning and cosmetic products among many other items, hence FEBEA adding this latest app to its toolbox; the trade associaiton already offered information on 25,000+ ingredients on its website.

In September last year, FEBEA kicked back at a ‘harmful cosmetics’ list published by French National Consumer Institute magazine 60 million de consommateurs, denouncing the “approximate”​ methodology behind the Cosmeto’Score system​ and stating it provided results that made it “difficult to judge the impact of a substance”.

Patrick O’Quin, president of FEBEA, said at the time: “The debate on the composition of products is still legitimate, in cosmetics as for all other consumer products. On the other hand, worrying the consumer with catch-all indicators, necessarily anxiety-providing, is not the right method.”

Referencing the Claire app, O’Quin said: “The cosmetics sector, which is one of the most supervised in the world, was one of the pioneers in terms of information and transparency for informed consumer choice (…) We are going even further in this direction with the development of this application.”

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