Cosmetic Label Regulations


Cosmetics, a long-established industry that has a detailed set of regulations the latest came into force in 2013. This is the European Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009. This set about deciding what should be on the packaging of cosmetics across the European Union.  This allows the same standard and people can use products confidently everywhere.

The need for this was down to allowing people to use products safely. We are talking about allergic reactions or sensitivity to ingredients causing discomfort or illness. Establishing a set list of what’s on packaging and standardising the names of any ingredients used. Update many of our cosmetics/make-up customers are finding themselves needing to display a tactile warning of danger (ISO 11683) on their products. So far this has included spirit gum, some essential oils and brush cleaner.

Common Ground & Conventions

Common ground was found by using existing standardisation to make things a little bit clearer.

  • Colours the international nomenclature of the Colour Index (CI) followed by five numbers, e.g. CI 42053
  • Ingredients of plant origin the Linnean nomenclature, used by botanists worldwide,
  • “Common” names e.g. water, milk and honey, the name given in the European Pharmacopoeia.

There are also conventions for:

  • “Parfum” indicating the presence of perfume,
  • “Aroma” indicating the presence of flavour,
  • [+/- …] means the product (decorative cosmetics only) may contain any or all of the colours listed.


INCI Cosmetic ingredient database lists 6000 ingredients and is growing continuously, and being updated.

Basic Agreements

Basic requirements of cosmetic packaging were decided. These are all obvious things found in many different industries.

  • List of ingredients
  • Name and address of manufacturer or supplier
  • 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)
  • A number of contents (weight or volume)

Labelling Guidance

List all ingredients on any cartons used for shelf packaging, the word ingredient must be used as the title. Ingredients are listed in order of what has the highest quantity. And for anything that makes up less than one percent of the total can be listed in any order after the others.

For small cosmetics that don’t have space for having the information needed you can use a leaflet. Use a symbol of showing as such on the container, a hand pointing to a leaflet or open book is a good choice. Frequent Readability customers know about peel and reseal/reveal labels that increase printing area on labels. When using a peel and read the label it’s officially advised to use a symbol to inform the customer that more information is available.

The following table is an extract from, who endeavour to keep members up-to-date with information about the industry, we thoroughly recommend visiting their site for more industry-specific information.

Notes: * Where required ** Ingredient labelling is required on the primary packaging where there is no secondary packaging.

Cosmetic Regulation Labelling Requirement Container (a box, jar…) Packaging (carton)
19.1(a) EU Address of the Responsible Person Yes Yes
19.1(a) Country of origin* Yes Yes
19.1(b) Declared Quantity of contents* Yes Yes
19.1(c) Date of minimum durability* Yes Yes
19.1(c) Period After Opening (PAO)* Yes Yes
19.1(d) Warning statements and precautionary information* Yes Yes
19.1(e) Batch code Yes Yes
19.1(f) Function on of the product* Declaration of the ingredients Yes Yes
19.1(g) Declaration on of the ingredients No** Yes

We hope that this has been helpful to you, happy labelling.


This does not amount to legal advice you must be read the correct legal texts. This is a basic understanding of the requirements and has been provided to give you the starting point for more detailed exploration for what you need on your label. Readability Ltd are a printer company, not lawyers.

If you would like a course or discuss the exactly what’s needed on the label you could try who run a range of courses on making and selling soaps and they have a course exactly for this.