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Cosmetics law - an overview

Cosmetics law is a complex legal framework that regulates the manufacture, sale, labelling and use of cosmetic products. It comprises a large number of legal provisions, regulations and guidelines at national and international level that aim to ensure the safety, quality and efficacy of cosmetics and protect the interests of consumers.

EU Cosmetics Regulation

One of the central legal regulations in the area of cosmetics law is the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EU Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009), which significantly regulates the sale of cosmetics in the European Union. This regulation lays down comprehensive safety standards, defines prohibited ingredients and requires clear labelling of cosmetic products. It applies directly in all EU member states and ensures that uniform standards are adhered to throughout the internal market.

The EU Cosmetics Regulation stipulates, among other things, that cosmetic products must be safe when used under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use. It contains a list of prohibited ingredients, including CMR substances (carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substances), which must not be contained in cosmetic products. In addition, all ingredients used must be clearly labelled on the packaging to enable consumers to make informed choices.

Compliance with labelling requirements is an important aspect of cosmetics legislation, which aims to ensure that consumers have all the relevant information about a product.

Claims Regulation

Another important element of cosmetics law is the Claims Regulation (EU) No. 655/2013, which sets out common criteria for substantiating advertising claims for cosmetic products. This regulation aims to prevent misleading or false advertising claims and to protect consumers from misleading advertising. Advertising claims for cosmetic products must be scientifically substantiated and must not be misleading.

Responsible Person (RP)

Only cosmetic products for which a legal or natural person within the Community territory has been designated as the "Responsible Person" may be placed on the market. For each cosmetic product placed on the market, the Responsible Person shall ensure compliance with the relevant obligations set out in this Regulation:

  • Safety - Cosmetic products must be safe for human health under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use

  • Notification - Before being placed on the market, the cosmetic product must be notified to the Commission electronically

  • Manufacture in accordance with good manufacturing practice

  • Creating and maintaining the product information file and the safety assessment

  • CMR substances and prohibited substances may not be used, and the substances listed in Annexes III-VI of the Regulation may only be used in accordance with the specified restrictions

  • Nanomaterials - In addition to notification, cosmetic products containing nanomaterials must be notified to the Commission electronically six months before being placed on the market

  • Labelling and advertising claims

  • Notification of serious undesirable effects

  • Informing the public about the qualitative and quantitative composition and about (serious) adverse effects

National provisions on cosmetics law & customs law

In addition to the EU-wide regulations, there are also national laws and regulations that supplement cosmetics legislation and define specific requirements for the sale and use of cosmetics in a particular country. These national regulations may impose additional requirements on the safety, quality and labelling of cosmetic products and must be observed by manufacturers, importers and distributors.

Customs law issues also regularly arise in connection with the import of cosmetic products from third countries.


Compliance with cosmetics legislation is crucial for manufacturers, importers and distributors of cosmetic products. They are responsible for ensuring that their products comply with the applicable legal requirements and are safe for consumers. This includes ensuring the safety and quality of products, proper labelling and packaging, compliance with advertising regulations and the reporting of adverse effects.

Both administrative and criminal sanctions can be imposed for violations of cosmetics law. This can include fines, the withdrawal of products from sale or even legal action against the persons responsible. It is therefore crucial for companies in the cosmetics sector to be fully aware of the applicable regulations and ensure that their products comply with legal requirements.

Cosmetics law lawyer

Dr Simon Harald Baier LL.M. advises on cosmetics law, customs law issues and all questions of commercial law.

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