European market access requirements for cosmetics

To sell your cosmetics on the European market, you need to comply with European market access requirements. These requirements can vary from Europe-wide legislation to common buyer preferences.


Legal requirements

The most important European legislation you must comply with is the Cosmetic Regulation (EC 1223/2009). It applies to manufacturers and importers of cosmetics as well as suppliers of cosmetic ingredients. Cosmetic manufacturers should prepare a Product Information File (PIF), including a Cosmetics Product Safety Report. The regulation also prohibits placing a cosmetic product on the market that has been the subject of animal testing. As a supplier of cosmetic ingredients, you should be able to provide data supporting no animal testing claims and inform manufacturers of any animal tests related to the development of safety evaluation performed. Moreover, a supplier should inform European manufacturers on the properties and attributes of the ingredients.

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restrictions of Chemicals (REACH) is the main European law regulating chemical substances and aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment. European importers are responsible for registering cosmetic ingredients (imports > 1 tonne) with a REACH authority. However, this does not apply to naturally occurring and chemically unmodified substances.

Labelling and packaging of cosmetic ingredients entering Europe is regulated under the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation (CE) 1272/2008. Cosmetic ingredients and products have to be labelled and packaged in such a way that it protects workers, consumers, and the environment.

In case you make claims about your cosmetic ingredient / product, you should comply with Commission Regulation (EU) No 655/2013. It states that claims – either explicit or implicit – should be supported by verifiable evidence. The regulation sets criteria for this evidence.


Additional requirements

In addition to legislation, European buyers often have non-legal requirements. Meeting these additional requirements isn’t mandatory, but can increase your chances on the market considerably.

Ethical sourcing is becoming increasingly important; European cosmetic companies and buyers pay more and more attention to the sustainability and traceability of cosmetic ingredients. As a supplier you should use sustainable sourcing practices and make sure that your ingredients are traceable. There’s a variety of sustainability standards. For example, the Union for Ethical BioTrade certification ensures ingredients are sourced with respect for the environment.

In addition, quality management standards are important to European buyers. Common standards are ISO 22000, FSSC 22000, ISO 9001:2015, Good Agricultural and Collection Practices, and Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points. Adopting these quality standards shows you are trustworthy and that you value the quality of your products.


Niche market requirements

There’s a trend towards natural and organic cosmetics in Europe. If you can produce natural and/or organic products these niche markets may provide opportunities. It is advised to obtain natural and organic certification as these add creditability. The most common standards are COSMOS and NaTrue.

Fair-trade standards are increasingly used for cosmetic products. As a supplier you should consider obtaining a fair-trade certification as it covers the social aspect of sustainable production. The most popular certification schemes are Fairtrade International, Fair for Life, Ecocert Fair Trade, and FairWild.


Want to know more?

Would you like to know more about European market access requirements for cosmetic ingredients? You can read all about them in CBI’s What requirements must natural ingredients for cosmetics comply with to be allowed on the European market?, including tips, guidance documents and helpdesk information!

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