According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the term "flavour" on a product label signifies "any natural or synthetic substance or substances used solely to impart a taste to a cosmetic product." In Europe, the labeling name for flavour is "aroma". The term "flavour" is used most often for lip-care products and lip cosmetics (think lipstick, lip gloss).

Although it is basically synonymous with fragrance, listing "flavour" on products meant for application to lips is more appealing (who wants to think of ingesting fragrance?). Given that flavour can be composed of numerous ingredients, it's a gamble as to whether or not lips will experience sensitivity. Most lip plumpers listing flavour tend to use that term to encompass flavouring agents that can have a sensitising effect of lips, such as various types of pepper, ginger, or various forms of mint.

References for this information:

Current Opinion in Biotechnology, February 2020, pages 168–180
Toxicology Research, July 2018, pages 618–646
Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, October 2013, pages 307–310
Environmental Health Perspective, April 2013, pages A126–A133

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

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