EU Cosmetic Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009

Blog post description: Demystifying the EU Cosmetic Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009: A Comprehensive Guide


3/30/20245 min read

blue and white flags on pole
blue and white flags on pole

Demystifying the EU Cosmetic Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009: A Comprehensive Guide

Introduction: Safeguarding Beauty: The Role of EU Cosmetic Regulations

The European Union (EU) boasts a vibrant cosmetics industry, offering a vast array of products to enhance beauty and personal care. But behind the alluring colors and textures lies a fundamental principle: consumer safety. The EU Cosmetic Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009, enacted in 2009 and replacing previous directives, serves as the cornerstone of ensuring safe and reliable cosmetic products within the European Economic Area (EEA). This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of this regulation, empowering stakeholders – manufacturers, importers, distributors, and consumers alike – with a deeper understanding of its core elements, implications, and best practices.

Key Objectives and Scope of the Regulation

The EU Cosmetic Regulation 1223/2009 aims to achieve two primary objectives:

  1. Guaranteeing a High Level of Protection for Human Health: This forms the cornerstone of the regulation. Stringent measures are in place to ensure cosmetics don't pose a threat to consumer safety, including restrictions on ingredients, safety assessments, and robust labeling requirements.

  2. Facilitating the Free Movement of Safe Cosmetics within the EEA: By harmonizing regulations across member states, the regulation simplifies production and sale of cosmetics within the EEA, promoting a unified market and benefiting both manufacturers and consumers.

The regulation encompasses a broad range of cosmetic products, including:

  • Skincare products (creams, lotions, cleansers, masks)

  • Makeup (lipstick, foundation, eyeshadow)

  • Haircare products (shampoos, conditioners, styling products)

  • Deodorants and antiperspirants

  • Bath and shower products

  • Perfumes and colognes

  • Oral hygiene products (excluding toothpaste)

  • Shaving products (excluding soaps)

  • Sun protection products

It's crucial to note that the regulation excludes medicinal products, medical devices, and biocidal products, each of which has its own regulatory framework within the EU.

The Pillars of Safety: Core Principles of the Regulation

Several key principles underpin the EU Cosmetic Regulation, ensuring a safe and transparent cosmetics landscape:

  • The "Positive List" Concept: Only ingredients explicitly listed in the regulation's Annexes II-VI can be used in cosmetic products. This list is regularly reviewed and updated for safety considerations.

  • Safety Assessment: A safety assessment, prepared by a qualified safety assessor, is mandatory for all cosmetic products before they can be placed on the market. This assessment evaluates the product's safety and identifies potential risks.

  • The Responsible Person (RP): Every cosmetic product placed on the EU market must have a designated Responsible Person (RP). This RP can be the manufacturer, importer, or distributor within the EEA. The RP bears legal responsibility for ensuring the product's compliance with the regulation.

  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP): Manufacturers must implement robust Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) to guarantee product quality, hygiene, and consistency. These practices encompass procedures for production, storage, and quality control.

  • Labeling Requirements: Clear and comprehensive labeling is essential for consumer information. Products must display certain mandatory information, including ingredient listings, expiration dates, batch/lot numbers, and warnings/precautions for use.

  • Notification Procedure: Before placing a cosmetic product on the EU market for the first time, a Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP) notification must be submitted to the relevant national authority of at least one EU member state.

  • Non-Conformity and Enforcement: Robust mechanisms are in place to address non-compliant products. Sanctions and penalties can be imposed on responsible persons if products fail to meet safety requirements.

  • Post-Market Surveillance: Manufacturers and RPs have a responsibility to monitor the safety of their products after they're placed on the market. This includes registering with the CPNP and investigating potential adverse reactions.

Understanding the Safety Assessment Process

The safety assessment serves as a critical safeguard in the EU cosmetic framework. Conducted by a qualified safety assessor, it typically involves the following steps:

  1. Gathering Product Information: This includes details on ingredients, formulation, manufacturing process, intended use, and target population.

  2. Evaluating Ingredient Safety: Each ingredient is assessed based on available scientific data, considering potential risks and addressing any restrictions in the Annexes.

  3. Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment: Potential hazards associated with the product and its ingredients are identified, and the likelihood and severity of each hazard are evaluated.

  4. Exposure Assessment: The level of potential exposure to

    1. the product and its ingredients is evaluated, considering factors like application frequency, duration of use, and target areas.

    2. Risk Characterization: Based on the hazard and exposure assessments, the overall risk associated with the product is determined. If the identified risks are deemed acceptable, the product can be considered safe for use.

    3. Safety Report Preparation: A comprehensive safety report is compiled, summarizing the assessment process, risk evaluation, and justification for the product's safety.

    Navigating the Regulation for Different Stakeholders


  5. Understand the "positive list" and ensure all ingredients are compliant.

  6. Conduct thorough safety assessments and maintain safety reports.

  7. Implement and document robust GMP procedures.

  8. Ensure clear and accurate labeling, including mandatory information.

  9. Appoint and communicate responsibilities to the designated Responsible Person (RP).

  10. Submit CPNP notifications and comply with post-market surveillance requirements.


  • Verify compliance of imported products with the regulation before placing them on the EU market.

  • Ensure they have access to the product's safety assessment report from the manufacturer.

  • Work collaboratively with the manufacturer to fulfill notification and post-market surveillance obligations.


  • Maintain records of the origin and distribution channels for cosmetic products.

  • Cooperate with authorities in case of non-compliance or product recalls.

  • Pass on relevant safety information along the supply chain.


  • Look for the "CE" mark on cosmetic products, indicating compliance with EU regulations.

  • Read ingredient listings and warnings/precautions on product labels.

  • Report any adverse reactions to the responsible person or relevant authorities.

Key Considerations and Best Practices

Staying Updated: The Annexes of the regulation are periodically reviewed and updated. Manufacturers, importers, and RPs should continuously monitor changes to ingredient restrictions and safety assessments.

Record Keeping: Maintaining thorough documentation across all stages is crucial. This includes ingredient specifications, safety assessments, GMP procedures, labeling information, and CPNP notifications.

Collaboration and Transparency: Fostering open communication between stakeholders within the supply chain is vital for ensuring product safety and addressing any potential issues promptly.

Innovation and Compliance: Manufacturers can find innovative solutions to incorporate new ingredients while adhering to the positive list and safety assessment requirements.

Consumer Awareness: Educating consumers about safe cosmetic practices, such as ingredient awareness and proper usage, contributes to a responsible and informed marketplace.

Conclusion: A Collaborative Commitment to Safe Cosmetics

The EU Cosmetic Regulation 1223/2009 plays a vital role in safeguarding consumer health and promoting a thriving cosmetics industry within the EU. By understanding the regulation's core principles, stakeholders can work collaboratively to ensure the creation and distribution of safe, high-quality cosmetic products. As science and consumer preferences evolve, the regulation will continue to be refined to reflect the latest advancements and maintain its crucial role in protecting public health. By embracing a culture of safety, innovation, and transparency, all stakeholders can contribute to a vibrant and trustworthy cosmetics landscape within the European Union.

Additional Resources:

This comprehensive guide empowers stakeholders with the knowledge and resources to navigate the EU Cosmetic Regulation effectively. Together, let's create a future where beauty and safety go hand-in-hand within the European cosmetics industry.