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Selling Products Legally

A Guide To The Legislation For Selling Your Products Legally

On the 11th September 2004, the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2004 came into force, which consolidates earlier Regulations and implements current European Directives.

The Regulations Define A Cosmetic Product As…

"Any substance or preparation placed in contact with any part of the external surfaces of the human body (that is to say, the epidermis, hair system, nails 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, except where such cleaning, perfuming, protecting, changing, keeping, or correcting is wholly for the purpose of treating or preventing disease."

A “cosmetic product intended to come into contact with the mucous membrane & Is Further Defined As….

"A cosmetic product intended to be applied in the vicinity of the eyes, on the lips, in the oral cavity or to the external genital organs, and does not include any cosmetic product which is intended to come only into brief contact with the skin."

What is a cosmetic product?

As defined by the Regulations, a cosmetic product is any substance or preparation in contact with….

· External surfaces of the skin (epidermis, hair, nails, external genital organs)
· Teeth
· Mucous membranes of the mouth

With the purpose mainly or exclusively to…

· Clean
· Perfume
· Change appearance of
· Protecting
· Maintaining the condition of
· Correcting body odours

The exceptions being when cleaning, perfuming, changing the appearance of, protecting, maintaining the condition of or correcting body odour is exclusively for treating and preventing disease.

Selling Your Products Legally

It is an offence to supply cosmetics that are liable to cause damage to human health when applied under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions.  Therefore to legally sell your products, they must meet with legislative requirements regarding safety & product labelling.

Safety Assessments

Any product you intend to sell must be safety assessed by an EU approved assessor.  There are a number of documents that you will need to collate and retain as part of the assessment.  See Compiling a Product Information Pack (PIP) & Good Practice Statemement (for registered members).  STR (UK) Ltd is one company that provides product safety assessment services.


The following information MUST be provided on packaging or labels…

1. List of ingredients in descending order of weight (using their INCI name) however, the following need not be included…

· Impurities in the raw materials
· Materials used in preparation but not present in the final product
· Materials used and solvents or carriers for perfumes or aromatic compositions

Ingredients in concentrations of less than 1% may be listed in any order after those that are greater than 1%

Colouring agents may be listed after all other ingredients.  Where there a variety of colouring agents (as in decorative products marketed in various colours) they may be listed providing as the words contain ‘may contain’ or the ‘+/-‘ are used

A database of INCI names is available on the Europa Website 

2. Name & Address of the manufacturer

3. Function unless obvious

4. Batch Code  (a code or date)

5. Durability  Unless the product is likely to last more than 30 months (and not deteriorate to the point whereby it is no longer safe to use), it should be marked with a ‘Best Before’ date.  However, if a product has a shelf-life that exceeds 30 months in an unopened state but is liable to deteriorate within 30 months after opening, it must include the relevant symbol and an indication of its expected shelf-life upon opening.

6. Presentation All information must be visible and easily legible.  Ingredients, name/address & ‘best before’ date must appear on the packaging, container, leaflet, notice, label, tag, tape, or card enclosed

This information is by no means exhaustive and you are advised to contact your local Trading Standards Office or visit the TS Website.

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