Cosmetic Products

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A cosmetic is any substance that is intended to come into direct contact with the skin, hair, nails, lips or teeth to clean them, perfume them, protect them, change their appearance, keep them in good condition or treat body odour (unless the products are used to treat disease).

Aromatherapy products may be classed as cosmetics if they are supposed to be used for a cosmetic purpose as described above. If they are mixed and applied or sold by an aromatherapy practitioner, they may be classed as a herbal remedy and are regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). If they are not a cosmetic or a medicine, they must still meet the general product safety requirements.

You can contact the MHRA at: Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) Information Centre, 10-2 Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane, London, SW8 5NQ. Phone: 020 7084 2000

What are the main requirements for cosmetic products?

You must not supply cosmetics that could damage someone’s health when they are used in a normal or reasonable way. Cosmetic products must be labelled with certain information and products made after 30 June 2000 must not be tested on animals.

How should cosmetic products be labelled?

The following information must be clearly labelled in English on the packaging or container or, if sold ‘loose’ on a leaflet given to the customer. The label must:

  • list the cosmetic ingredients in order of weight, starting with the heaviest;
  • give the name and address of the manufacturer;
  • give a ‘best before’ date (if needed);
  • show any restrictions or precautions for using the product;
  • give a batch number; and
  • describe what the product is for (if it is not obvious).

The Department of Trade and Industry has produced a guide to the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2004. If you would like to see this guide, go to or contact us. The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association’s website contains a detailed section on cosmetic regulations. To see this information, go to Or you can contact them at:

The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) Limited
Josaron House
5/7 John Princes Street
Phone: 020 7491 8891