CosmeticOBS - L'Observatoire des cosmétiques
May 16, 2019Cosmetics glossary

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Cosmetic products

What is a cosmetic product? We all have the feeling that we know this… but we can also make mistakes sometimes! And the question is not insignificant, since the status of a product determines the regulations, and the obligations, that apply to it. In Europe, a cosmetic product is governed by Regulation 1223/2009, and it is in this text that its definition must be sought.

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According to European Regulation 1223/2009 on cosmetic products, ‘Cosmetic product’ means
“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 the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours.”

Three elements are essential in this definition to recognize a cosmetic product.

The form

A cosmetic product is a substance or a mixture of susbstances.
Consequence: a toothpaste is a cosmetic product (its paste is a mixture of substances). A toothbrush is not a cosmetic product: it is not a substance, nor a mixture of substances, but an article.

The application

A cosmetic product is intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body.
Consequence: a cosmetic is deposited on the skin, hair, nails… It is not swallowed, injected, inhaled…
An anti-wrinkle cream with hyaluronic acid for the face is a cosmetic product. An anti-wrinkle preparation of hyaluronic acid for injection is not a cosmetic product.

The fUnction

A cosmetic product must be exclusively or mainly, cleaning, perfuming, changing the appearance, protecting, keeping in good condition or correcting body odours.
Consequence: a cosmetic product has a… cosmetic action! It does not cure a disease, it does not significantly modify a physiological function of the body.
An oily skin cream with tea tree essential oil is a cosmetic product. An anti-acne cream with tea tree essential oil is not a cosmetic product, it is a medicine.

Attention! For a product to be a cosmetic, it must meet all three criteria. Only one missing part, and it’s not a cosmetic!
In summary, one element in each of the three boxes of this table must be in green!

Regulation No.1223/2009
Form Application Function
• Substance(s)
• Mixtures of substances
• Epidermis
• Hair system
• Nails
• Lips
• External genital organs
• Teeth
• Mucous membranes of the oral cavity
• Cleaning
• Perfuming
• Changing the appearance
• Protecging
• Keeping in good conditions
• Correcting body odours
LW

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