CBD cosmetics regulation in the EU & UK

Updated: Jul 15

Embarking on launching your first white label CBD skincare range can at times feel a bit overwhelming.

There are so many different facets of the business to consider.

In amongst selecting the products, designing the packaging and identifying payment providers comes the rather less glamorous topic of ensuring your product is compliant for sale.

In our experience, new clients approaching us are often unaware or unclear of the regulatory requirements that accompany CBD cosmetics.

This article provides a beginner’s guide to how CBD cosmetics sit within the existing regulatory frameworks.

For more information on how Cannafull quickly and easily support clients through the regulatory side of a product launch see our supporting blog. With our help to do the “heavy lifting”, it releases your time to build your brand and drive sales

White label CBD cosmetics

Go onto any CBD e-commerce market place and you’ll find products for the skin being sold under different banners of the website, such as topicals, beauty, cosmetics and skincare. Whilst these headings may differ, from a compliance perspective all of these products would be considered “cosmetics”.

Under UK and EU legislation, a cosmetic is defined as:

“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”

The fact that topical CBD products are classed as cosmetics means that their compliance framework is well established and clear. The EU and the UK have shared standards about the required certification, safety requirements and what claims can and can’t be made.

  • In the UK, the legislative framework is covered under Schedule 34 of the Product Safety and Metrology Statutory Instrument

  • In Northern Ireland & the EU the legislative framework is covered by EU Cosmetics Regulation ((EC) No. 1223/2009) (and subsequent amendments)

Fortunately, due to the UK being part of the EU until recently the requirements are almost identical between the 2 different jurisdictions.

Is CBD a legitimate skincare ingredient?

Whilst CBD in skincare might be a hot trend, it is not just a gimmick ingredient.

Many people with experience of the broader CBD industry are likely to have heard of the beneficial properties of CBD administered topically. However, our clients are often unaware that from a cosmetics perspective the legitimacy of CBD and its properties are just as valid as mainstream and longstanding ingredients such as shea butter, aloe vera and Vitamin C.

CosIng is the official cosmetic ingredient database of the European Commission and references all ingredients that are authorised for use in cosmetics within Europe, but also a range of ingredients that aren’t allowed for cosmetic use. Unfortunately, many cannabis extracts fall into this latter category. Just because an ingredient is listed on this database, doesn’t mean that it is compliant for use in a cosmetic product. This can be particularly difficult to navigate. CosIng also provides details of the properties of each ingredient which helps to give a good understanding of what you can and can’t say about your finished cosmetic product. The two cannabis-derived ingredients that we use in all our white label are shown below to the right.

Making claims about CBD skincare: what you can say from a cosmetics perspective

Claims that over-step the mark have the potential to get you into hot water, and dealing with any complaints or challenges can end up consuming precious management time.

Whilst there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that people use topicals containing cannabis extracts to help with conditions such as acne, psoriasis and pain, it is important to bear in mind that products marketed as cosmetics cannot make medical claims. In line with this there are definitely terms and phrases that you should avoid using, such as “cures acne”, “heals eczema”, or “relieves pain”.

However, fear not! When we develop products at Cannafull, the CBD is just one of the ingredients that we include to nourish and benefit the skin. In fact, as the CBD content will normally be less than 1% of the formula, the other 99%+ of the product is equally important to us when designing a product for maximum efficacy (click here to find out about the benefits of the wide range of ingredients we use).

Many of the non-CBD ingredients we use have longstanding uses, in practices such as aromatherapy, to help users feel more relaxed or stimulated depending on the products intended use. Therefore, it is often possible to make claims about the product which draw on the non-CBD ingredients rather than just relying on the properties of CBD, but it is still important to avoid any medical claims.

Are CBD topicals impacted by Novel Food regulations?

In the UK, the implementation of the Novel Food regulations by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has had a significant impact on ingestible forms of CBD such as tinctures, gummies and drinks.

The good news is that as CBD skincare is not ingestible, they are not subject to the Novel Food regulations.

Cosmetic compliance requirements in the EU & UK

Like all industries, the cosmetics industry has a regulatory framework to ensure that consumers are kept safe. The requirements mandated by the framework are very similar across the EU and UK. These include:

  • All products must be accompanied by a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR) which demonstrates that the product formula has been signed off as safe by an accredited professional.

  • Clear guidelines about what information must be included on the packaging

  • Assigning a responsible person (RP) whose address is marked on the product. The RP is the point of contact if a consumer or the authorities has any queries regarding the product.

  • Registration of the products on the appropriate SCPN or CPNP databases, for the UK & EU, respectively

  • Ensuring that products have been made to high standards by the following of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and maintenance of a Product information file (PIF) which is a record of all of the salient information about the product at a batch-specific level.

  • The capability to record any Serious Undesirable Effects (SUE) in the unlikely event that a consumer reacts adversely to the product.

Our other blog provides information on how Cannafull supports customers for all of the above points.

In this article we’ve tried to provide a high-level introduction on some of the areas we get most questions about from new clients. However, if you’ve got any more questions, please get in touch.

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