Are cosmetics regulated more strictly in Europe than in the U.S.?
The United States (US) and European Union (EU) share a common goal of ensuring the safety of cosmetics for consumers through rigorous science-based regulation.
MYTH: Cosmetics and personal care products are more strictly regulated in the EU and consumer are better protected.
FACTS: While there may be minor differences, the manner by which the U.S. and the EU regulate the safety of cosmetics and personal care products are very similar. In the United States, the cosmetics industry is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has broad regulatory authority under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In the EU, each Member State has health authorities which regulate cosmetics within their respective national boundaries according to the European Union’s Cosmetics Directive regulation.
Click here for a more detailed chart comparing US and EU cosmetic regulation. As it shows, consumers in both parts of the world can feel confident that their cosmetic products are safe.
How are cosmetics regulated in Europe?
The European Union’s Cosmetics Directive regulation requires that cosmetics products placed on the EU market be safe; that is, they “must not cause damage to human health when applied under normal or reasonably foreseeable conditions of use.” As in the U.S., manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that cosmetics products comply with the law and are safe for their intended uses before they are marketed. Regulations are enforced at the EU member country level, and each country has an authoritative body that is responsible for ensuring compliance.
How are cosmetics regulated in the United States?
Nothing is more important to the cosmetics and personal care products companies than the safety of the families who use our products. We are committed to upholding strict FDA cosmetics regulations as required by the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). Cosmetics companies take their safety responsibility very seriously and often surpass the requirements of the law with additional consumer safety measures.
DID YOU KNOW: That all cosmetics and personal care product manufacturers are required by U.S. federal law to demonstrate the safety of their products and ingredients BEFORE they go to market.
Consumers must have confidence in the products they buy and use each day. Towards that end, cosmetics and personal care products companies invest substantial resources in scientific research and safety processes to substantiate the safety of their products. Companies work with and employ thousands of chemists, toxicologists, biologists, environmental scientists and other experts to evaluate the safety of cosmetic products before they go to market.
Does the FDA have the authority to regulate cosmetic safety?
Strong federal safety requirements govern cosmetics and personal care products sold in the U.S. It is a crime to market an unsafe cosmetics product. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U. S. Attorney General can take action against any company that markets an unsafe cosmetics product. The law provides severe penalties, including seizures, recalls, fines and bans, for cosmetics and personal care products manufacturers that do not meet these strict safety standards.
The FDA has wide-ranging regulatory authority that helps to ensure the safety of cosmetics and personal care products. Throughout the years, FDA has infrequently had to exercise this power to limit or prohibit ingredients that it considered to be unsafe. Cosmetics and personal care products companies are committed to upholding strict FDA regulations.
Cosmetics Information & Safety
Do independent experts research and evaluate cosmetic safety?
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel is an independent, non-profit scientific body that was launched in 1976 with support of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) to assess the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S. The CIR Expert Panel consists of world-renowned scientists and physicians who have been publicly nominated by consumer, scientific and medical groups, government agencies, and industry. Members of the Panel must meet (and actually exceed) the conflict of interest requirements regarding financial interests as special non-government advisory experts to FDA.
The CIR thoroughly reviews and assesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in an open, unbiased, and expert manner and publishes the results of its work in peer-reviewed scientific literature. FDA, CFA and the Personal Care Products Council provide non-voting liaisons to the Panel and are actively involved in the comment and discussion process.
Is the safety of a cosmetic product evaluated once it hits the market?
Yes. Once a product is marketed companies monitor consumer use and investigate all new scientific information. Companies also collaborate with external scientists and regulatory agencies on new safety methods. As science advances and consumers’ preferences change, the industry continually innovates to ensure millions of families have the safest, highest quality products that help enrich their lives.
For more detailed information on the processes we use to affirm the safety of our products, click here.
Special Cosmetics Oversight
What voluntary steps are cosmetic manufacturers taking to provide cosmetic safety and protect consumers?
Nothing is more important to the cosmetic and personal care products companies than the safety of the families who use our products. We are committed to upholding strict FDA cosmetic regulations as required by the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). Cosmetic companies take their safety responsibility very seriously and often surpass the requirements of the law with additional consumer safety measures.Over the years, cosmetic and personal care products companies have gone beyond the requirements of the law to make available additional safety information and technical resources. Industry programs established to support the FDA’s regulatory work include: – The CIR: Cosmetic Ingredient Review – Cosmetics Industry Consumer Commitment Code – The Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program – Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary
What actions can the FDA take against manufacturers that produce and market unsafe cosmetics?
The federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) requires that every cosmetic product and its individual ingredients be substantiated for safety before going to market and that product labeling be truthful and not misleading. Cosmetic manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that products comply with the law before they are marketed. This process includes analyzing a cosmetic ingredient’s testing and safety data. If the manufacturer is unable to substantiate the safety of a product, the law requires the product to carry a conspicuous warning stating that its safety has not been substantiated.
The law provides severe penalties for products that do not meet these standards.
Do all cosmetic manufacturers include ingredient labels on their products?
Yes. Proper labeling is an important aspect of marketing a cosmetic or personal care product. Labeling is used to help inform consumers of a product’s intended use and any related warnings, its ingredients and net quantity of contents, and its place of manufacture or distribution. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates cosmetic labeling under the authority of both the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) .
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Food and Drug Administration
FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors
The U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act
The U.S. Fair Packaging and Labeling Act
Search the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
FDA Regulation of Over-The-Counter Drugs
The European Union
California Air Resources Board (CARB)
California Proposition 65
Ozone Transport Commission
American Academy of Dermatology
American Contact Dermatitis Society
Cosmetics Alliance Canada
The Personal Care Products Council (U.S.)
Look Good, Feel Better Program for Cancer Patients
The Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association (U.K.)