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The marketing and sale of cosmetics is regulated at the EU level under European Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on Cosmetic Products (‘EU Cosmetics Regulation’)

Brexit: Although the terms of withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union are not finally settled as at the time of writing, the passing of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill by the UK Parliament means will continue the application of this legislation in the UK during the Brexit transition period and beyond. See further: Brexit.

What are ‘cosmetic products’?


The EU Cosmetics Regulation defines ‘cosmetic product’ means any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours.

The EU Cosmetics Regulation:

* requires manufacturers or importers to ensure that any cosmetic product made available on the market is be safe for human health when used under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use;

* imposes testing and labelling requirements;

* requires that all products to be marketed in the EU must be registered in the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP) before being placed on the market;

* requires that some cosmetic products are given special attention from regulators due to their scientific complexity or higher potential risk to consumer health;

* ensures that there is a ban on animal testing for cosmetic purposes;

* prohibits certain substances from use in cosmetics;

* makes EU countries responsible for market surveillance at national level.

UK Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013

The Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013 [ SI 2013/1478] came into force on 11 July 2013.

These Regulations provide for the enforcement of the EU Cosmetics Regulation within the UK and provide for enforcement and criminal penalties.

Further reading:

Business Companion: Cosmetic products

EU Commission: Cosmetics

What's new item:

27/04/2018: Cosmetics retailer fined £60k for selling dangerous skin lightening products

A Hackney hair and cosmetics store and its Director have been fined for selling dangerous skin lightening products.Mr Mohammed Naeem, pleaded guilty at Thames Magistrates Court to the 13 charges against him and 13 against his company Dalston Hair and Cosmetics Ltd, trading as Shaba Cosmetics. Naeem was fined £14,000 and the company £42,000. A victim surcharge was also paid by both defendants, with the full costs and fines totalling £59,793.

The skin lightening creams contained the hydroquinone, can burn the skin and cause permanent damage and discolouration. Products containing hydroquinone are banned in the EU. The fine is thought to be the largest issued in London for a breach of the cosmetics regulations.

[Page upated: 01/05/2013]


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