Cosmetic Product Rules and Regulations

All cosmetics made and sold in the UK and EU, whether by large companies or individuals, must comply with the cosmetics laws. 

This page explains the legal obligations when manufacturing, placing or importing a cosmetic product onto the UK or EU market. While CTPA provides below the links to the legal text, we understand that the laws are a long read and can be daunting!  However, knowing what you need to do is really important because cosmetic products are used on our bodies and the strict safety rules are in place to ensure our consumers’ safety.  Ignorance of the legislation is no defense in a court of law.  Therefore, we also provide guidance to make the legislation more approachable.  

As well as the text and guidance here, there is a comprehensive FAQs section that can further help you navigate the legal requirements.  CTPA has also made available the ‘CTPA Guide on Post‐Brexit Trade: Great Britain, Northern Ireland & the European Union’, developed in close collaboration with the UK Government Department Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) and others.  The purpose of this guide is to set out the information on what is necessary to continue to trade effectively between GB/NI and EU, helping businesses navigate any obstacles to trade, and identify potential opportunities. It seeks to help companies gain a thorough and practical understanding of the changes that occurred as a consequence of the UK leaving the EU, from both a regulatory and trade perspective. 

This page focusses on the Cosmetics Regulation.  To know more about REACH (chemicals regulation) or other laws applicable to cosmetic products, please visit the relevant sections to this page from the drop down menu.


All cosmetic products placed on the market of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) intended for sale or to be given away for free in the course of a commercial activity must comply with:

In particular:

  • cosmetic products solely placed on the GB market must comply with the UK Regulation only;
  • cosmetic products solely placed on the NI market must comply with the EU Regulation only.

The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is the competent authority for cosmetic products in the UK and have issued guidance on cosmetic compliance for the GB and NI markets.

It is essential that the relevant legislation is followed and businesses are strongly encouraged to download and read the guide as a first step.  Further help can be found by watching the recording of the CTPA open webinar on UK Regulations for cosmetics.

Businesses should also refer to the relevant laws in full and ensure compliance before placing a product on the market. We suggest that if you are in doubt you should take legal advice.


In the European Union (EU), the manufacture of cosmetics is governed by the EU Cosmetics Regulation ((EC) No. 1223/2009).


Note: The annexes to the Cosmetics Regulation document reflect the situation at the time of adoption of the proposal on 5 February 2008 and do not reflect the current situation. Any updated entries can be found in subsequent amending Regulations (see above list).

EU Consolidated Text

A consolidated (reference only) text is available from the European Commission.

  • Consolidated text (up to 23 August 2021) - does not include Regulations/Decisions published after this date.

In addition to the list above, the EU Commission publishes a list of amendments and corrections.

EU guidance

The European Commission has issued a number of guidance documents including:

  • guidelines on the 'Period After Opening' requirement.
  • a recommendation establishing guidelines on the use of claims referring to the absence of tests on animals.
  • a manual on 'borderline products'.

These are available on the European Commission website for cosmetics.

For key points from the legislation see the CTPA guide 'Making or Supplying a Cosmetic Product'

To find out about other laws, select this topic using the drop-down menu above.