Europe’s cannabis products regulatory regime. Part 2: Cosmetics - ironing out the regulatory wrinkles

Consumer interest and demand continues to rise in the CBD marketplace. Cosmetic manufactures are, as always, looking at ways to support consumer demand while adhering to product safety and regulatory compliance. The fluid regulatory landscape can feel challenging to both companies that already implement CBD into their products, and also to companies that are new to the CBD cosmetics market.

CosIng and EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC No. 1223/2009)

CosIng is the European Commission’s cosmetic ingredient database that provides schedules of ingredients that are authorised and prohibited for use in cosmetics within the EU. Although the CosIng catalogue is not legally binding, it serves as an informative guide for EU members states with the ultimate purpose to harmonise the marketing of cosmetic products.

CosIng was updated in February 2021, approving two CBD ingredients for use in cosmetic products:

  • Cannabidiol derived from extract or tincture or resin of cannabis. The cited ingredient functions are anti-sebum, antioxidant, skin conditions and skin protecting.
  • Cannabis sativa leaf extract can be legally cultivated and supplied for industrial use if THC levels present in the plant to not surpass 0.2%. The cited ingredient functions are skin conditioning and skin conditioning emollient”.
This update is important, as previous indications suggested that only synthetically produced CBD was allowed for use in cosmetics along with certain CBD extracts from parts of the hemp plant under the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC No. 1223/2009).

In April 2021, Cannabigerol (CBG), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, was added to the CosIng catalogue as an approved ingredient. This cannabinoid is also referred to as the ‘mother of all cannabinoids’, as it serves as a precursor molecule from which other cannabinoids are biosynthasized. The reported antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of CBG are of great interest to cosmetic manufacturers.

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) is making further requests to the European Commission to see addition of substances derived from hemp root and hemp flowers to be added to the CosIng catalogue of approved ingredients. Should the EIHA’s request be successful, cosmetics manufactures can expect to see a wider variety of approved substances to be available for use in their products.

UK regulations

The UK Office for Product Safety and Standards has referenced the EU CosIng Database as a useful link within its latest guidance on EU Cosmetics Regulation, suggesting that the CosIng Database may continue to be viewed as an informative guide within the UK following its departure from the EU.

As cosmetic products are not ingestible, they are not subject to the Novel Food regulations or Novel Food applications as set by the Food Standards Agency in the UK (see our Part 1 article for more information).

Schedule 34 of the Product Safety and Metrology Statutory Instrument forms the basis of future UK legislation on cosmetics, and requires that cosmetics manufacturers who wish to sell products in the UK must, in a way analogous to previous EU-based obligations:

  • Nominate a ‘Responsible Person’ based in the UK that holds recognised Safety Assessor qualifications.
  • Notify products to the UK Submit Cosmetic Product Notification (SCPN) service.
  • Produce a product information file in English language.
  • Adhere to UK labelling requirements.
Cosmetic manufacturers should ensure that these requirements are understood and met, including understanding of how to produce a suitable Product Information File, if their products are to be marketed or sold in the UK.

Practical tips

Cosmetic manufacturers should continue to monitor the current regulations within their target markets. The lack of uniformity across the EU in respect of this area has historically caused a greater compliance uplift for companies in this area. It is also important to remember that the regulations regarding CBD use in cosmetics may be subject to change as CBD use increases and the science continues to develop.

Cosmetic companies incorporating CBD into their products should be particularly mindful of the specific legalities surrounding this, and in particular the stark rules around what types of CBD is and isn’t permitted to be incorporated and sold legally as part of cosmetic products. Constant and considered assessment of product portfolios should be undertaken regularly.

Related item: Europe’s cannabis products regulatory regime: evergreen or erratic? Part 1: Food products

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