How are Beauty and Cosmetic Products Regulated in the UK?

Beauty cream on fingers

Cosmetic and beauty products are heavily regulated in the UK with the aim of protecting the consumer, but if you aren’t aware of these regulations it can be hard to know whether to trust certain products and companies. Buy Britain is here to give you peace of mind and explain exactly how beauty and cosmetic products are regulated in the UK. 

So, how are beauty and cosmetic products regulated in the UK? Beauty and cosmetic products are regulated according to the UK Cosmetic Regulations 2013. The regulations ensure every aspect of beauty and cosmetic products are tailored towards the safety of the consumer. The regulations include information on labelling, safety assessmemnts, animal testing and display of durabilty. 

Keep reading to find out more about who regulates beauty and cosmetics products in the UK, as well as whether UK cosmetic products have to be tested. 

How is the Beauty and Cosmetic Industry Regulated in the UK?

Who Regulates Beauty and Cosmetics Products in the UK?

How Did Brexit Change the Regulations of Beauty and Cosmetic Products in the UK?

Do Cosmetic Products Need to be Tested in the UK?

How is the Beauty and Cosmetic Industry Regulated in the UK?

The beauty and cosmetic industry is a large industry filled with an array of products ranging from makeup, skincare, hair care and even perfumes. The products are consumer goods, therefore require strict regulations in order for them to be produced or sold within the UK. Below we have detailed the main regulatory requirements for beauty and cosmetic products in the UK, as set by Regulation 2009/1223 and the Cosmetic: Products Enforcement Regulations 2013. 


According to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on cosmetic products, it is an offence to supply a cosmetic or beauty product that has an incorrect label because this can lead to potential harm to the consumer. The documentation details that incorrect labelling can include: incorrect name or address of the manufacturer or importer, incorrect details of ingredients, precautions, durability and incorrect details of the function of the product.  

Safety Responsibility:

The regulations also state that a beauty or cosmetic product should be safe for human health, under normal and reasonably foreseeable conditions of use. What’s more, the presentation of cosmetic products should also take into account the Food Imitations (Safety) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989). This requires all beauty and cosmetic products that are supplied by manufacturers but are not food to not: 

  • Have a  form, odour, colour, appearance, packaging, labelling, size of volume that is likely to cause people, and children, to confuse the product with food. 
  • Be likely to result in the product ending up in a person’s mouth and cause harm.

This is most relevant to products that look, smell and taste like food. Scented products are very popular in the cosmetic industry. For example, there are an array of body washes, moisturisers, lip balms and even shampoos that come in different scents such as coconut, passionfruit, apple and strawberry.  Under the regulations, these products must have appropriate labelling and packaging to make it very clear that they are not for human consumption. 

The documentation also details that a cosmetic or beauty product should be supplied to a market by a responsible person who is aware of the vigorous regulatory requirements within the market. This helps to ensure the suppliers have a good understanding of what is expected of their products. 

Safety Assessment: 

The person responsible is also in charge of making sure that the product is tested to ensure that it is safe for human health. Both the intended use of the product and the exposure to the atmosphere once the product has been opened,  should be considered during the testing process. The regulations also detail that appropriate sampling of the product must be carried out in a reliable and reproducible way to allow for in-depth analysis. The results should then be cross referenced to determine whether they meet the relevant designated standards.

The responsible person must also notify the Secretary of State of any new products being brought to the market in the UK. The UK Government has established the Submit Cosmetic Product Notification service for this and have detailed some important requirements for submission. 

Restrictions on Certain Substances: 

The regulations state that cosmetic products must not contain any substances that are classified as category 2 or category 1A or 1B. However, if one of these products is listed under annexes in the documentation, then they have been found to be safe for cosmetic and beauty product use and therefore are acceptable to use. The main ingredients that are allowed in cosmetic products are preservatives, thickeners, moisturisers, and colourants. 

Nanomaterials are also strictly regulated, but those that are colourants, UV filters and preservatives can be acceptable and are listed within the annex of the document if they fall under the regulatory requirement. For guidance on safe ingredients to use in cosmetic products click here. 

Animal Testing:

According to the regulations, cosmetic and beauty products are not permitted to be displayed or sold on the UK market if the final formulation has been involved in animal testing in order to prove the safety of the product. However, if the product has utilised historic animal testing data that was discovered before animal testing was banned, they may still be utilised to meet the requirements of the strict regulations.
If you are interested in learning more about animal testing and how products display the cruelty-free logo, take a look at our recent blog by clicking here.

Display of Durability: 

The regulations also state that a clear date must be displayed on a beauty and cosmetic product detailing when the product is no longer safe to be used. This must be displayed using the words “best before end” or the hourglass symbol that represents the same meaning.
The positioning of this information and the packaging is also strictly regulated. It must appear on the outside packaging and container of the product to ensure any user would be able to see it even after removing the packaging.

Communication of Undesirable Effects: 

The responsible person or distributor must report all topics of serious undesirable effects to the Secretary of State. The information on serious undesirable effects must be submitted via a specific email address. Consumers or health professionals may also report issues related to serious undesirable effects of a cosmetic product. If they choose to report this information to authorities to anyone other than the Secretary of State, the authority must immediately pass this information onto the Secretary of State. 

Who Regulates Beauty and Cosmetics Products in the UK?

UK Beauty and Cosmetic products are regulated by the UK Cosmetic Regulations from 2013. These regulations are not only relevant to products that are made within the UK, but also by those that are supplied into the UK to ensure consistency throughout all beauty and cosmetic products on the market. The regulations are in place with the ultimate goal of protecting the consumer through key regulations regarding labelling, use of safe ingredients and display of durability. 

How Did Brexit Change the Regulations of Beauty and Cosmetic Products in the UK?

Since Brexit, the regulations relating to beauty and cosmetic products have been rectified to accommodate for the changes caused by Brexit. Below we have detailed the main changes made to these regulations. 

  • The responsible person who is in charge of a cosmetic product being placed on the UK market must be established within the UK. 
  • The name and address of the responsible person must be detailed on the labelling of the product. During the transition period of Brexit (until December 2022), the name and address can be outside of the UK. 
  • All imported products must detail the country of origin on their labels. If the country of origin is in the EU, ‘made in the EU’ is not acceptable and instead the actual country must be displayed. 

Do Cosmetic Products Need to be Tested in the UK?

For beauty and cosmetic products to be distributed on the UK market, they must be tested to determine the safety of the product. The responsible person must hold a diploma or other relevant qualifications awarded by a university, relating to subjects such as pharmacology, toxicology, medicine or a similar discipline. 

The tests should determine the overall safety of the product for human use and whether any of the ingredients or packaging cause negative effects. These tests should also help to determine the durability of the product ready for the correct labelling to be displayed. 

The products must be tested by completing a product information file (PIF). The responsible person must detail the following information:

  • The ingredients, their concentrations, chemical names and toxicological properties.
  • The physical and chemical properties of ingredients and the final cosmetic product.
  • The product stability.
  • Any microbial contaminants in ingredients or the final product.
  • How preservatives prevent microbial contamination of the product.
  • Any impurities.
  • What has been used to package the product.
  • How the cosmetic product is likely to be used.
  • The quantities of the ingredients and final product the user could be exposed to.

After detailing this information in the PIF report, the responsible person, must then complete the safety assessment by using their qualifications and the information they have found to detail the following:

  • An assessment of the product’s safety.
  • Any necessary warnings or instructions for the product.
  • The scientific reasoning for the conclusions of the safety assessment.
  • Details of the safety assessor, including name, address, and proof of qualifications.

Beauty and Cosmetic Products at Buy Britain

Buy Britain is the largest shoppable marketplace for British-made products, connecting you with brilliant businesses from around the country. We stock a large range of beauty and cosmetic products including vitamins and supplements as well as skin and bodycare. For more information about Buy Britain’s beauty and cosmetic products click here.

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