Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. has asked an Illinois federal court to throw out a proposed class action lawsuit that alleges that products that claim to be “oil free” actually contain oils.
Consumers, the company argues, don’t define oils the same way that the plaintiff proposes, which is that oils are “any substance at least partly fat-soluble.” That criteria encompasses a wide variety of materials and ingredients with very different functions and qualities, including vitamins and silicone-based polymers, the company further argues.
There is no official definition of oil in the cosmetics industry, or recognized standard for when a manufacturer can claim a product is oil free. This lawsuit brings to light what consumers consider to be an oil. Some ingredients may clearly be oils to consumers, such as mineral oil, while others, such as most vitamins, may only be recognizable as an oil to a chemist.
A definitive court decision will help make the distinction and could affect current and future claims about products.