Peel and Reveal Chemical Labels

Labelling Legislation for Cosmetic Products

Proper labelling on cosmetics is so important. It tells the consumer a variety of things, including what the product is, what the ingredients are, how much there is, when to use it by and who made it. It also lists any warnings or instructions for use. Anyone working in makeup should understand what the labels mean.

Product labelling in the EU is regulated by law under the EU Cosmetics Regulations (1223/2009) – and the regulations main purpose is human safety. Cosmetic laws apply to products that are intended for sale and those given away for free, as the making and selling of cosmetics is considered to be a commercial enterprise.

All cosmetic and personal care products must have a label. It must be indelible and easy to read, and include the following information:

  • Name and address of manufacturer or supplier
  • List of ingredients
  • The amount of contents (weight or volume)
  • Date of minimum durability (“best before date”) or a “Period After Opening” (PAO)
  • Warning statements and precautionary advice
  • Batch number or lot code
  • Product function (when appropriate if use is not obvious)
  • The name and address of the manufacturer or supplier is required on both the primary container and any outer packaging.

Ingredients have to be listed on any outer packaging. If there is no outer packaging, it must be on the label of the main container. There must be the title “Ingredients” followed by all the ingredients contained in the product, in descending order of concentration.

The ingredients must follow a standard with regard to terminology so there is consistency between different brands. This is set in the International Nomenclature for Cosmetics (INCI). It means that wherever you buy the product, the ingredients list is using the same terms, keeping the ingredients used easier to identify.

The term “parfum” means perfume, which can consist of many ingredients. These do not have to be listed individually, with the exception of certain ingredients which must be shown on the label; the term “aroma” means flavour (e.g. for things like toothpaste) and the raw materials in the aroma do not need to be listed, with a few exceptions.

Ingredients are shown in descending order of weight. For ingredients that are in concentrations of less than 1%, they can be listed in any order after all other ingredients; colouring agents are shown by “Cl” followed by its number and can be listed in any order after all other ingredients; For a range of coloured products that come in various different shades, the symbol “+/-” or words “may contain” before the list of colours means that not all the colours listed are necessarily used in every shade; nano ingredients must have “(nano)” after it e.g. “titanium dioxide (nano)”

The amount of product at the time of packaging must be given on the label and can be shown as a weight or volume. The “e” symbol (which means estimated) is a guarantee that the product has been filled in accordance with the average system of measures used in the EU. The term “Net Wt.” may also be seen by the weight/volume. Some products are exempt from this requirement, including free items, sachets for single application and anything less than 5g or 5ml.

Any cosmetic product that has a lifespan of less than 30 months from the date of manufacture must have a “best before the end of” date on the packaging. This is shown by the words “best before” followed by the date (month/year) when the product either ceases to fulfil its intended function, or no longer meets safety requirements as per the regulations. Any special precautions to be observed e.g. storage conditions, in order to maintain the product as required by the regulations must also be shown on the packaging.

For products with a lifespan longer than 30 months, they must have a “Period After Opening” time. This means once a product has been opened by the consumer for the first time, it has a shelf life of so many months under normal conditions of use. The legislation for cosmetic products is long and sometimes confusing. We are here for you to help decipher what is necessary on your label. We keep up to date with all relevant legislation for chemical labels.