Handmade cosmetic products are wonderful, especially if made with natural ingredients. The market for them is growing and there are many small-scale, home-based producers out there giving consumers a wide choice.
However, in order to sell cosmetic products (and this includes a wide range of products from soaps to balms, lotions to scrubs, bath bombs to serums etc) the producer MUST abide by a set of regulations, defined by law. The reason for this is public safety. The same legislative standards applies to imported products. The legislation in question was previously known as the Cosmetics Products (Safety) Regulations, since replaced by the new EU Regulation 1223/2009 (Cosmetics Regulation) which has been in force since 11 July 2013. It is legislation in force within the European Union and it has been carried over into UK law post-Brexit. The regulations include:
- The seller must hold a valid CPSR / CSA (Cosmetic Products Safety Report / Cosmetic Safety Assessment) for all products sold. This is issued by a certified cosmetic chemist and lays down strict rules to govern what ingredients are allowed in a product and their maximum percentages. They should be able to produce evidence of certification by an authorised safety assessor. This includes the sellers of boxed kits and even people who make a few ‘hobby’ items to sell at a simple event such as a school fête. These assessments are costly, so it will be those of us who are honest and determined to do things by the book who will have them.
Our Cosmetic Chemist is the excellent Scott Grainger of Cosmetic Safety Assessments. Scott’s expertise includes has 20+ years in chemical and product safety, and 7+ years in small scale manufacturing and the development of cosmetics; he is a member of the advisory panel of the Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers.
- Prior to Brexit, full details of every product had to be uploaded to the EU CPNP (Cosmetic Product Notification Portal) and be notified accordingly; post-Brexit, since the legal requirements governing cosmetics production and notification were already written into UK law, there is now a UK version of the CPNP – the UK CP – for which the notifying body is the OPSS. This allows full information disclosure to authorised personnel, for example the National Poison Information Service, should someone suffer an adverse reaction to a product, and it allows Trading Standards to keep tabs on producers and sellers. The information is not available to the general public so the producer’s specific recipes are protected. Again, the seller / producer should be able to produce written evidence (the product notification pdf) to show they comply.
- Additionally, there must be a full ingredients list available at point of sale (be it website, market stall, retailer etc) and well as the weight/volume of the product. This should be laid out according to UK regulations with ingredients listed as their INCI name (although the common name may also be included for ease of understanding).
The regulations are, therefore, in place to protect you as a consumer. The GCSTM (Guild of Craft Soap and Toiletry Makers) video on our homepage states that only producers who can produce this evidence are allowed membership; we are happy to state our membership of the GCSTM.
‘The legislation sets standards. It ensures that every ingredient in handcrafted soap and toiletry products is safe to use on the human body in a wash-on wash-off product like soap, or in lotions which may stay on the skin of long periods of time. Some ingredients are banned because they’ve been found by scientific testing to be potentially harmful. Other products are banned or restricted because they are potential allergens. The aim of the legislation is to protect the general public and the craft soap and toiletry maker. The legislation is law, anyone manufacturing soap and toiletry products who does not ensure that they do so in compliance with the legislation risks being prosecuted.’
Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).
If cosmetic items (including soap) are being sold as being aimed specifically at children under 3 years old, ask for confirmation of an additional (and expensive!) safety assessment on top of the usual one.
All sellers should have their own product and public liability insurance documents as a matter of course. If they are trading without a CPSR and / or have not notified their products on the EU Portal, their insurance may be rendered invalid. Unfortunately, this is not common knowledge among most people (including fair organisers) so it is well worth asking a few questions of the seller to ensure they are trading legitimately.
If you have any doubts about the compliance of a producer / seller, contact your local Trading Standards and they should be able to help you.