Businesses operating in the toiletries sector will likely be aware of impending changes to the EC’s cosmetics legislation, which were announced in 2008 and will fully come into force this July.

While the amendments may not have a big impact for firms already in the habit of conducting thorough safety checks on their ingredients, it’s still worth being aware of the implications of the new rules.

cosmeticWhat and when

The EC Regulation 1223/2009 (known as the Cosmetics Regulation) will replace the current Council Directive 76/768/EEC (the Cosmetics Directive) on July 11th 2013. To help ease the transition, toiletries firms have been allowed to bring products complying with the Cosmetics Regulation to market before this date.

For the purposes of this legislation, cosmetics products refer to:

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 details

The main components of the Cosmetics Regulation include:

Safety checking procedures

Each product requires a ‘responsible person’ to ensure compliance with the rules within the regulations, especially those relating to health, safety and labelling. They need to keep a product information file that the authorities can access when needed.

Among the data to be supplied in this file are details of the distributors the company supplies each product to. The responsible person will need to withdraw or recall non-compliant goods in all member states. If they do not, the authorities will take steps to do so.

Banned and restricted substances

Toiletries firms must not use any of the prohibited substances listed within the Cosmetics Regulation, of which there are more than 1,300. There are also certain ingredients that can only be used subject to specific restrictions, which number more than 250. A full list of both types of substances can be found in the official documentation for the regulation. It’s worth noting that there are also particular requirements for products containing nanomaterials.

Animal testingBanned Animal Testing

Testing on animals is completely prohibited within the European Union for both ingredients and finished goods. Toiletries firms need to find alternative methods to test their products.


All product labels should include the following information in clear, legible text:

  • The responsible person’s name and address
  • Country of manufacture (for goods that are being sold in other nations)
  • Use-by date
  • Usage precautions
  • Volume or weight at the time of packaging
  • List of ingredients
  • Batch/reference number

Complying with the legislation

As you can see, the Cosmetics Regulation is very much geared towards ensuring the safety of consumers when using toiletries. As such, it’s highly likely you’ll already be taking steps to assess product safety during the manufacturing process.

However, it’s useful to begin looking at how you can fully comply with the new rules before July 13th, so you can get used to the various processes and invest in new labelling, packaging or filling equipment in good time (click here┬áif you need to do this). That way, you won’t be playing catch-up when the Cosmetics Regulation does come into force.