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.
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:
- Schedule 34 of the Product Safety and Metrology Statutory Instrument (hereafter ‘the UK Regulation) for cosmetics marketed in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland);
- Regulation EC 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products for cosmetics marketed in Northern Ireland. This is in accordance with the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol to the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement.
- 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.
It is essential that the relevant legislation is followed and businesses are strongly encouraged to download and read the UK guide as a first step. Further help can be found by watching the recording of the CTPA open webinar on UK Regulations for cosmetics.
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.
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.
CTPA cannot accept any liability for reliance on information provided.
In the European Union (EU), the manufacture of cosmetics is governed by the EU Cosmetics Regulation ((EC) No. 1223/2009). This Regulation and its amendments are directly applicable in all 28 EU countries. The main purpose of the Cosmetics Regulation is human safety. The laws apply to products intended for sale and those given away free, as this is considered to be a commerical enterprise. As always, ignorance of the law is no excuse and no defence; and the penalties for non-compliance can be severe with heavy fines and even periods of imprisonment options open to the courts.
The Resources section has useful guidance on all aspects of the EU cosmetics regulation.
CTPA has also produced a brief guide written in clear everyday language to help explain the obligations of cosmetic companies under the EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009. It has been developed for businesses making and supplying cosmetic and personal care products and highlights what you need to know before placing your product on the UK and EU markets.
The guide includes information on:
- definition of a cosmetic product
- who is responsible
- assessing product safety
- product information files
- making claims
- using nanomaterials
- undesirable effect recording and reporting.
If you have specific questions, the Frequently Asked Questions section has a comprehensive list of the sort of questions we are routinely asked.