Cosmetics in EU: Laws and Regula­tions in 2024 (Ultimate Guide)

cosmetics laws for declaration info graphic

Are you excited about launching your cosmetic brand in Europe?

You’re not alone!

Europe’s cosmetics market is thriving, and it’s an excellent oppor­tunity for businesses like yours to tap into this lucrative industry.

But before you dive in, there’s something you need to know: navigating the legal landscape can be tricky. That’s where this ultimate guide comes in handy.

Your one-stop resource for EU cosmetics regula­tions

In this compre­hensive guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of selling cosmetics in the European Union (EU).

We’ll cover the essential laws and regula­tions you need to be aware of, from the EU Cosmetics Regulation to labeling requi­re­ments and more.

We’ve designed this guide to be your one-stop resource for under­standing the legalities of entering the European cosmetics market.

Making the complex simple

We know that starting a cosmetics business can be overwhelming, especially when you’re dealing with unfamiliar regula­tions.

But don’t worry – we’re here to help!

We’ll break down complex legal concepts into easy-to-under­stand language and provide practical tips to make your journey into the European market as smooth as possible.

Ready to conquer the European cosmetics scene?

So, are you ready to conquer the European cosmetics scene? Let’s get started!

The European Union Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009

By under­standing and complying with the European Union Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009, you’ll be well on your way to successfully launching your cosmetics brand in the European market.

Ensuring cosmetic product safety

The backbone of cosmetics regula­tions in the EU is the European Union Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009.

This regulation is designed to ensure the safety, quality, and efficacy of cosmetic products sold within the EU.

It’s crucial for you, as a cosmetics business owner, to familiarize yourself with this regulation, as it sets the foundation for selling cosmetics in Europe.

Navigating ingre­dient restric­tions and prohi­bited substances

The EU Cosmetics Regulation includes a list of banned substances and restric­tions on certain ingre­dients.

This means you’ll need to carefully review the ingre­dients in your products and ensure they comply with these regula­tions.

Keep in mind that the list is regularly updated, so staying informed about any changes is essential.

Mastering labeling requi­re­ments

Proper labeling is a critical aspect of compliance with EU Cosmetics Regulation.

The regulation lays out specific requi­re­ments for labeling cosmetic products, including:

  • General labeling rules for all cosmetics including all mandatory infor­mation (see graphic below)
  • Specific labeling requi­re­ments for different types of cosmetics (e.g., skincare, makeup, hair care, etc.)
  • Language requi­re­ments (language of the target market)
  • Special danger warnings for the use of certain active ingre­dients (text and/or symbols)

By adhering to these labeling requi­re­ments, you’ll ensure your products are trans­parent and infor­mative to consumers, and you’ll avoid any potential regulatory issues.

To learn more about packaging, read our Ultimate Guide to Cosmetics and Makeup Packaging.

cosmetic product labeling regulations

The importance of the Product Infor­mation File (PIF)

The Product Infor­mation File (PIF) is a crucial document that contains all relevant infor­mation about your cosmetic product.

This includes a description of the product, the safety assessment, data on ingre­dients, and proof of claims, among other things.

The PIF must be kept up-to-date and available for inspection by competent autho­rities.

Notifying your cosmetic products

Before you can sell your cosmetics in the EU, you’ll need to notify the European Commission through the Cosmetic Products Notifi­cation Portal (CPNP).

This process involves submitting infor­mation about your products, such as their name, ingre­dients, and Respon­sible Person. The CPNP serves as a central database for EU autho­rities to monitor the cosmetics market and ensure compliance.

For more guidance on starting a cosmetics business, visit our 12 Tips for Starting a Cosmetic Business blog post.

The Role of the Respon­sible Person (RP)

Definition and respon­si­bi­lities

When launching your cosmetics brand in Europe, it’s essential to under­stand the crucial role of the Respon­sible Person (RP).

The RP is an individual or entity based in the EU who is legally respon­sible for ensuring that your cosmetic products comply with all the relevant EU regula­tions.

This includes overseeing the safety assessment, product notifi­cation, and maintenance of the Product Infor­mation File (PIF).

In short, the RP serves as your point of contact with regulatory autho­rities and plays a vital role in helping you navigate the complex world of cosmetics compliance.

Selecting and appointing an RP

Choosing the right RP is a critical decision for your cosmetics business, as they can signi­fi­cantly impact your brand’s success in the European market.

Here are a few tips to help you select and appoint an RP:

  1. Look for expertise: Find an RP with experience in the cosmetics industry and a thorough under­standing of EU regula­tions. They should be well-versed in the compliance process and able to guide you through it.

  2. Check their creden­tials: Ensure that the RP you’re considering has the necessary quali­fi­ca­tions and certi­fi­ca­tions to perform their duties effec­tively. This may include degrees in fields like chemistry or toxicology, as well as relevant industry experience.

  3. Commu­ni­cation is key: A good RP should be easy to commu­nicate with and responsive to your needs. Look for someone who can provide clear guidance and is willing to colla­borate with you throughout the compliance process.

  4. Get recom­men­da­tions: Ask for references from other cosmetics businesses that have worked with the RP you’re considering. This can give you valuable insights into their perfor­mance and relia­bility.

Compliance with Good Manufac­turing Practices (GMP)

Overview of GMP in the cosmetics industry

Good Manufac­turing Practices (GMP) are a set of guide­lines that ensure the consistent quality and safety of cosmetic products.

In the EU, complying with GMP is a must, as it helps to minimize risks associated with cosmetic production and guarantees that your products meet the high standards expected by consumers and regulators.

GMP covers various aspects of the manufac­turing process, from raw materials and equipment to personnel and quality control proce­dures.

Key aspects of GMP compliance

To ensure your cosmetics business complies with GMP, you’ll need to focus on several key aspects:

  1. Facilities and equipment: Your manufac­turing facility should be clean, well-maintained, and designed to prevent conta­mi­nation. Equipment used in production should be regularly inspected and maintained to guarantee optimal perfor­mance.

  2. Personnel: Employees involved in the manufac­turing process should be well-trained, qualified, and follow proper hygiene practices. This helps to prevent conta­mi­nation and ensure the consistent quality of your products.

  3. Quality control: Implement a robust quality control system that includes regular testing of raw materials, in-process samples, and finished products. This will help you identify and address any quality issues before your products reach the market.

  4. Documen­tation: Maintain detailed records of your manufac­turing processes, quality control proce­dures, and employee training. This documen­tation will be crucial in demons­t­rating your GMP compliance during inspec­tions or audits.

Our Contract Manufac­turer Cosmetics article offers more infor­mation on choosing a manufac­turer that follows GMP guide­lines.

Watch out for the ISO 22716 certi­fi­cation

ISO 22716 is an inter­na­tio­nally recognized standard for GMP in the cosmetics industry.

Achieving ISO 22716 certi­fi­cation demons­trates your commitment to quality and safety, and it can give your brand a compe­titive edge in the market.

By working with an ISO 22716 certified manufac­turer, you can ensure that your products meet the highest GMP standards, giving you and your customers peace of mind.

EU Cosmetic Claims Regulation

Definition and scope

When marketing your cosmetic products in Europe, it’s essential to be aware of the EU Cosmetic Claims Regulation.

This regulation sets the standards for claims made about cosmetic products, ensuring that they are truthful, clear, and backed by evidence.

The regulation applies to any state­ments made about a product’s features, perfor­mance, or efficacy, whether on the packaging, in adver­tising, or through other marketing channels.

Criteria for cosmetic claims

To comply with the EU Cosmetic Claims Regulation, your product claims must meet several key criteria:

  1. Legal compliance: Claims should not contradict the legal requi­re­ments for cosmetic products, including safety, efficacy, and labeling regula­tions.

  2. Truthfulness: All claims should be honest and backed by reliable evidence, such as scien­tific studies or consumer testing.

  3. Evidential support: Claims must be supported by adequate, verifiable evidence that can be easily accessed and understood by consumers and regulators.

  4. Honesty: Claims should fairly represent the product’s perfor­mance and not exaggerate its benefits or features.

  5. Informed decision-making: Claims should provide clear, accurate infor­mation that allows consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase.

Common claims and examples

When marketing your cosmetics in Europe, it’s essential to be cautious about the claims you make.

Here are some common claims and examples of how to ensure they comply with the EU Cosmetic Claims Regulation:

Navigating National Laws and Regula­tions

Under­standing varia­tions between EU member states

Although the European Union has a harmo­nized set of regula­tions for cosmetics, individual member states may have additional requi­re­ments or varia­tions.

As a cosmetics seller, it’s vital to be aware of these diffe­rences to ensure compliance in each market you enter.

Familia­rizing yourself with the specific rules and regula­tions in each country will help you adapt your business strategy accor­dingly and avoid any potential legal issues.

Examples of country-specific regula­tions

Let’s take a look at a few examples of country-specific regula­tions in the EU.

In France, for instance, you might need to comply with additional safety assess­ments and provide French trans­la­tions of your product labels.

Germany has specific rules regarding the use of certain ingre­dients, like alcohol in cosmetic products, which might require a different formu­lation for the German market.

In Italy, you may need to adhere to stricter rules on the use of specific preser­va­tives.

These are just a few examples; the requi­re­ments can vary signi­fi­cantly across the EU, so it’s crucial to research and under­stand the regula­tions in each market.

Steps to ensure compliance in each market

  1. Research the specific laws and regula­tions in each country where you plan to sell your cosmetics.
  2. Consult with local experts or legal profes­sionals to help you under­stand and navigate the country-specific requi­re­ments.
  3. Customize your product labels, packaging, and formu­la­tions to meet the specific regula­tions in each market.
  4. Stay up-to-date with any changes in laws or regula­tions and adapt your business practices accor­dingly.

Selling Cosmetic Products online in Europe

eCommerce regula­tions and requi­re­ments

Navigating the world of eCommerce can be challenging, especially when selling cosmetics online in Europe.

To help you out, let’s discuss some essential aspects you need to consider.

First and foremost, create product descrip­tions that are not only accurate but also trans­parent.

This means listing all ingre­dients, explaining usage instruc­tions, and highlighting any potential risks associated with your products.

Don’t forget to be upfront about pricing, including any taxes and shipping fees.

Your customers will appre­ciate the trans­pa­rency!

Also, having a customer-friendly returns policy in line with EU consumer rights direc­tives will ensure that your online store is compliant and trust­worthy.

Cross-border sales conside­ra­tions

Selling cosmetics across European countries comes with its own set of challenges.

Reliable shipping partners can make a world of diffe­rence, ensuring that your customers receive their products promptly and without any issues.

When it comes to taxes, make sure you’re on top of VAT regis­tration in each country where you exceed the distance-selling threshold.

Charging the appro­priate VAT rate based on the desti­nation country is equally important.

And, of course, it’s essential to have product labels custo­mized to meet the language requi­re­ments and safety standards of each country you’re selling in.

Data protection and GDPR compliance

Protecting your customers’ data is of utmost importance when selling online in Europe.

To comply with GDPR, start by developing a clear privacy policy that outlines your data collection, processing, and storage practices.

Be proactive in seeking consent from customers before gathering their data and always use secure methods for data storage and trans­mission, like encryption and SSL certi­fi­cates.

Also, have a plan in place to handle data subject access requests and be ready to modify or delete personal data as needed.

This shows your customers that you value their privacy and are committed to keeping their infor­mation safe.

Recap of what we have learned

Recap of key points

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide, so let’s take a moment to revisit the essential points.

To successfully sell cosmetics in Europe, it’s crucial to adhere to EU regula­tions, including labeling requi­re­ments, product safety, and ingre­dient restric­tions.

You’ll need to appoint a Respon­sible Person to ensure compliance and keep up with Good Manufac­turing Practices.

Moreover, be aware of country-specific regula­tions.

Don’t forget the importance of navigating the world of eCommerce, which involves adhering to regula­tions and requi­re­ments, managing cross-border sales, and ensuring data protection and GDPR compliance.

Empha­sizing the importance of compliance

Compliance with European laws and regula­tions is not just a legal obligation but also a way to build trust and credi­bility with your customers.

By showing that you prioritize safety, trans­pa­rency, and consumer rights, you’ll foster a loyal customer base and set yourself apart from compe­titors who might not be as diligent in their compliance efforts.

Encou­ra­gement for potential cosmetics sellers in the EU

Embarking on a journey to sell cosmetics in the European Union might seem daunting, but with the right knowledge, prepa­ration, and commitment to compliance, you’ll be well on your way to success.

As you navigate the various regula­tions and requi­re­ments, remember that you’re not alone—there are countless resources and experts available to help you along the way.

By following the guide­lines and best practices outlined in this guide, you’ll create a thriving cosmetics business in the European market, reaching more customers and making a positive impact on the industry.

So go ahead, take the plunge, and bring your unique cosmetic products to the vibrant and diverse European market!

Contact us now and we take care of every­thing

Navigating the complex world of cosmetics laws and regula­tions in Europe can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone.

At SBLC, we’re here to guide you through every step of the process. From product develo­pment and manufac­turing to ensuring compliance with EU requi­re­ments, we’ve got your back.

Get in touch with our team of experts today, and let us help you bring your vision to life in the European cosmetics market.

Don’t wait – your successful cosmetics business starts here!


What are the main cosmetics regula­tions in the European Union?

The main cosmetics regula­tions in the EU include the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009, Good Manufac­turing Practices (GMP), and the EU Cosmetic Claims Regulation.

These regula­tions cover product safety, ingre­dient restric­tions, labeling requi­re­ments, and marketing claims.

What is the role of a Respon­sible Person (RP) in the EU cosmetics market?

A Respon­sible Person (RP) ensures that a cosmetic product complies with EU regula­tions.

They oversee the product’s safety assessment, manage product infor­mation files, and handle any adverse reactions reported by consumers.

How can I ensure my cosmetic products comply with Good Manufac­turing Practices (GMP)?

To comply with GMP, follow the guide­lines in the ISO 22716 standard.

This includes maintaining a clean and hygienic production environment, imple­menting quality control proce­dures, and ensuring proper documen­tation of manufac­turing processes.

If you have a private label cosmetics supplier like us, ask for their GMP certi­fi­cation.

How do I make cosmetic claims compliant with EU regula­tions?

To comply with GMP, follow the guide­lines in the ISO 22716 standard.

This includes maintaining a clean and hygienic production environment, imple­menting quality control proce­dures, and ensuring proper documen­tation of manufac­turing processes.

If you have a private label cosmetics supplier like us, ask for their GMP certi­fi­cation.

How do I make cosmetic claims compliant with EU regula­tions?

Ensure your claims are substan­tiated by scien­tific evidence, such as clinical studies, research data, or expert opinions. This means that the effects claimed must be proven and measurable.

Be very careful when making claims about the product’s perfor­mance.

Please consult a lawyer in any case, but especially if you intend to print promises of effec­ti­veness on your product.

Because then you can not simply undo it, as you could for example in your online shop.

Are there varia­tions in cosmetics regula­tions between EU member states?

While the main regula­tions apply across the EU, some member states may have additional requi­re­ments or specific regula­tions.

It’s essential to research and under­stand the unique requi­re­ments of each market where you plan to sell your products.

What should I consider when selling cosmetic products online in Europe?

When selling cosmetics online in Europe, you must follow eCommerce regula­tions, address cross-border sales conside­ra­tions, and ensure compliance with data protection laws like the GDPR.

Additio­nally, it’s crucial to pay attention to the product claims you make regarding the product’s perfor­mance, as making misleading or false claims can result in penalties or legal actions.

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Charlotte Wagner

"After my Bachelor & Master's degree in Beauty Management at the mAHS (media Akademie Hochschule Stuttgart), I work full-time in consulting for start-ups and medium-sized companies in the cosmetics industry.
I discovered my passion for writing at an early age, so that I pursue it as a as a hobby author."

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