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EU Commission's public consultation to improve EU Cosmetics Products Regulation

Posted on 29 November 2022

The European Commission (the Commission) has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the EU Cosmetics Products Regulation (the Regulation), which relates to the provision of better safety and protection of the environment and human health. This follows a consultation launched in November 2021 that was open to all stakeholders, including consumers, professional users of cosmetics, manufacturers, distributors, importers and SMEs, with the aim of improving the current measures in place.

The Regulation is part of the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. The strategy recognises that while chemicals are essential for the wellbeing and high living standards of modern society, some chemicals also have hazardous properties which are capable of negatively impacting human health and the environment.

The strategy therefore aims to provide enhanced protection while simultaneously encouraging innovation for the safe and sustainable use of chemicals. This includes banning the use of the most harmful chemicals in cosmetic products.

The Regulation contains the key framework for finished cosmetic products that are placed on the EU market. It lays down rules applicable to the products with the aim of ensuring a well-functioning internal market which provides consumers with an enhanced level of protection and product safety. In addressing issues with the current regime, the consultation is contemplating an automatic ban of "the most harmful chemicals" (e.g. substances that are disruptive to the endocrine system, chemicals which affect the immune system, etc.) and only allowing the use of such substances where it is proven "essential for society". Under the essential use criteria, these most harmful chemicals will only be allowed to be used exceptionally and under extremely stringent conditions where it is absolutely necessary and no alternatives exist or are available.

The consultation also aims to gauge public opinion on:

  • A new measure to take into account simultaneous exposure from chemicals from different sources;
  • Simplified and improved labelling of cosmetic products; and
  • The definition of nanomaterials.

Nanomaterials, characterised by their tiny size and undetectable to the naked eye, are often added to consumer products as they are able to provide novel characteristics like greater strength and chemical reactivity. There is currently a lack of coherence between legislations in relation to their definition.

The roadmap of review of the Regulation comprises three phases. The first phase was the inception impact assessment which concluded on 1 November 2021. The second phase is the public consultation, which ran until 21 June 2022, followed by Commission adoption which is intended to happen in the final quarter of 2022.

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