How to classification of cosmetics in Europe

How to classification of cosmetics in Europe

The first step to registrer a cosmetic product and knowing how to classification of cosmetics is to make sure what is its definition and concept in Europe and the UK.

To do this, it is necessary to know the definition of a cosmetic product. According to European Regulation 1223/2009, the official definition of cosmetic product is “any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and mucous membranes of the oral cavity for the exclusive or main purpose of cleaning, perfuming, modifying their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odors”.

When classification of cosmetics in Europe, 4 aspects must be taken into account:


Substances listed in Annex II of prohibited substances must not be present. If substances listed in Annex III of restricted substances are present in the formula, they must comply with the restrictions established. The colorants, preservatives and sunscreens allowed in cosmetics are listed in Annexes IV, V and VI

Area of application:

As the definition itself indicates, a cosmetic must be applied to the external parts of the body or to the teeth and mucous membranes of the oral cavity and external genital organs. Therefore, the classification of cosmetics does not cover products that are ingested, inhaled, injected or implanted into the body and will be regulated by other legislation depending on the type of product (medicinal product, medical devices, etc.).


The exclusive or main function of a cosmetic product is to cleanse, perfume, modify body appearance, protect, maintain in good condition or correct body odors. It is possible that some products may be considered borderline with drugs, medical devices, biocides, toys, etc. In these cases, for the classification of cosmetics, they must have as their main or exclusive function one of the functions described in the definition of cosmetics (cleaning, perfuming, modifying body appearance, protecting, maintaining in good condition, correcting body odours).

Claims for the classification of cosmetics:

As stated in the previous points, it is logical that also the labels have to reflect this definition. For this reason, claims are regulated. We cannot claim that our product cures or treats any disease, as this is typical for drugs and/or medical devices. Likewise, claims such as “bactericidal, sanitizing, virucidal” will not be allowed as the product will fall under the Biocide Regulation. We will discuss this aspect further in the section dedicated to how to create the labeling of a cosmetic product. Likewise, it is not allowed to mention or visually present any disease or medical condition in the labeling of a cosmetic product.

Below is a list of products that can be defined as cosmetics:

  • Creams, emulsions, lotions, gels, oils for the skin
  • Face masks
  • Tinted based
  • Make-up powders
  • Toilet soaps
  • Deodorant soaps
  • Perfumes, eau de toilette, eau de parfum
  • Bath and shower products (gels, oils, foams, salts)
  • Depilatories
  • Deodorants and antiperspirants
  • Hair colorants
  • Products for waving, straightening and fixing hair
  • Hair conditioners (creams, oils, lotions)
  • Hairdressing products
  • Shaving products (creams, lotions, foams)
  • Make-up and make-up removal products
  • Products intended for application to the lips
  • Products for care of the teeth and the mouth (toothpaste, mouthwashes)
  • Nail care products
  • Products for external intimate hygiene
  • Sunscreen products
  • Products for tanning without sun
  • Skin-whitening products

Now that you know how cosmetic classification works in Europe, download our free eBook to register cosmetics in the EU in 4 key steps with minimum effort.

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