In the European Union, the law on cosmetics is regulated by Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009. Cosmetics law is identical in all European Union countries. This solution allows, on the one hand, to provide equal, high level of cosmetics safety in all EU countries, and on another hand, to assure the free exchange of goods between different EU countries.
The Cosmetics Regulation, in addition to cosmetics safety, also regulates the composition, labeling, production, and marketing conditions, documentation and market surveillance by the authorities, and introduces a ban on animal testing - all cosmetic products and their ingredients.
The entity that markets the cosmetics in the EU, whether it is a producer or a distributor, is the responsible party for the product's compliance with the law and its safety. Compliance with the requirements is subject to control by the supervisory governmental authorities - the State Sanitary Inspection and the State Trade Inspection.
Composition of cosmetics
The Cosmetics Regulation sets out specific legal requirements for the production of cosmetics. That is to ensure the consumer's safety while using the cosmetic.
There is no list of substances allowed for use in cosmetics. It would be impossible to create such a file because manufacturers use thousands of different ingredients in cosmetic products. However, the law specifies in detail which substances producers cannot use and which of these components they can include in their cosmetics under certain conditions or specific concentration levels, etc.
The substances harmful to human health and life are prohibited for use in cosmetics, and these are - substances from the human body, carcinogenic, mutagenic and toxic to reproduction, radioactive materials, drugs, many alkaloids, antibiotics, many natural plant extracts and others.
Ingredients listed in the list of restricted substances, producers, can include in their cosmetics only under specific conditions. These conditions are, for example, maximum allowable concentrations. The producer has to place warnings on the packaging for these selected categories of products where the particular ingredient can be used.
Safety of cosmetics
Before entering the market, each product is subject to a strict safety assessment done by an independent professional assessor. It is a multi-step procedure, the main elements of which are a detailed analysis of toxicological data for individual cosmetic ingredients and results of testing of the finished product.
The Cosmetics Regulation regulates in detail the way cosmetics are labeled. The mandatory information on the packaging is:
- name and address of the producer,
- nominal quantity (it is not available only on some free samples and products with a capacity of less than 5 g or 5 ml),
- date of minimum durability PAO symbol (Period After Opening) or expiration date,
- special precautions (if it results from the use of certain substances subject to restrictions),
- batch number of the product,
- list of ingredients, example, the qualitative composition of the cosmetic,
- the cosmetic function, if it is not clear from the product presentation.
There are additional warnings on some cosmetics. Their presence is most often due to the content of specific ingredients in the cosmetic, for example, cosmetics containing salicylic acid must bear the "do not use for children under three years" warning, and cosmetics containing benzalkonium chloride must have a "avoid eye contact" warning. Warnings and recommendations for use are to ensure the safe use of the cosmetic, so always read them carefully and follow them.
Tests on animals
Since 2013 in Europe, there is a total ban on testing cosmetics on animals and the sale of cosmetics that were tested in this way.
However, the law requires the use of data obtained in animal tests in the safety assessment performed for each cosmetic product.
Placing cosmetics on the market
Every skin care product that goes to the EU market has to be tested and evaluated regarding safety.
Besides, before placing the cosmetic on the market, the responsible person (usually the manufacturer) is obliged to provide the Commission with information about the cosmetic, that is, notification of the product in the European Cosmetics Notification Portal (CPNP). This registry is intended only for competent authorities (i.e., bodies of the State Sanitary Inspection and poison control centers) and is designed to inform that a new product will appear on the EU market.
Also, the manufacturer has to provide information at the request of consumers about the content of hazardous substances in the product, information on adverse reaction resulting from the use of a given cosmetic product, the name and code number of fragrance compositions and aroma used in the cosmetics along with their supplier's identity.
Cosmetics and their production - a way of supervision
Producers of cosmetics are subject to the oversight of appropriate state authorities. The State Sanitary Inspection controls the production conditions and product safety at each stage of production. The State Trade Inspection controls products on the market or intended to be placed on the market, including labeling and adulteration.
The documentation of each cosmetic must be available at any time at the request of the supervisory authorities.
The documentation is made available in the EU, at the address indicated on the packaging.