New EU rules to combat misleading information on cosmetics

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New EU rules that took effect on Thursday (11 July) are intended to strengthen safety standards on cosmetics and provide better information for consumers.

Cosmetics in EU shops, whether manufactured in Europe or imported from third countries, should from now on be fully compliant with the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

"From daily essentials like toothpaste to that little luxury of a new lipstick or after-shave, consumers are now better protected and have clearer information about the cosmetics they buy," Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for Consumer Policy, said.

"The new rules also make enforcement easier, bringing greater peace of mind and confidence in the products purchased," he added.

The cosmetics industry in the EU is a world leader with over 4,000 cosmetic manufacturers. The sector creates directly and indirectly over 1.5 million jobs.

The Commission said greater confidence should benefit producers as well as consumers.

As of 11 July, manufacturers need to prepare a safety report prior to placing a product on the market and notify their product once via the EU Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP). The information stored in the portal will allow national Anti-Poison Centres to access the composition of the products within seconds in case of accidents.

New rules for nanomaterials

Furthermore, the new rules mean that colourants, preservatives and UV-filtres, including those containing nanomaterials, must be explicitly authorised.

Products containing other nanomaterials not otherwise restricted by the Cosmetics Regulation will be the object of a full safety assessment at the EU level, if the Commission has concerns.

Nanomaterials must be labelled in the list of ingredients with the word 'nano' in brackets following the name of the substance, e.g. "titanium dioxide (nano)".

In addition, manufacturers wanting to put a claim on their product, for example "48 hrs efficiency" for deodorants, will have to follow six common criteria: legal compliance, truthfulness, evidential support, honesty, fairness and informed-decision making.

National authorities will be able to check claims against these criteria.

Positions

Bertil Heerink, director-general of Cosmetics Europe, said that the introduction of a European Regulation for Cosmetics is a decisive step towards creating a strong single level playing field.

"For the first time, the world’s largest personal care market of more than 500 million consumers will be served by a single, harmonised piece of legislation, directly applicable in all the member states of the EU.

"The regulation both gives consumers a uniform level of protection in a single market, and brings unprecedented clarity for industry. We look forward to working with our stakeholder partners to ensuring the success of this important regulatory development," Heerink said.

Background

Cosmetics include make-up, perfumes and after-shaves but also essential well-being products such as sunscreen, toothpaste and cleansing products.

The new Cosmetics Regulation, adopted in 2009, enters into force on 11 July 2013 following a transition period to allow industry to adapt to the new rules.

European legislation on cosmetics was first adopted 35 years ago and has been substantially revised on no less than 7 occasions.

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