Worldwide online sales regulation for cosmetic companies


As most of the world is currently under quarantine, with many stores selling cosmetics closed, cosmetics manufacturers and distributors are looking for online channels to sell their cosmetics and keep their business afloat.

But there are important compliance issues to consider when going online, such as if products must remain compliant with the national laws of the countries where they are sold, even if they have been shipped from another country directly to the country. final consumer.

This article takes a look at some of the world’s largest markets and those most affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

European Union

All cosmetic products placed on the EU market must comply with the EU Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009– this regulation is currently still in force also in the United Kingdom. Cosmetic products sold online, whether distributed to the end consumer from a warehouse in the EU or shipped directly from a third country, must always comply with the provisions of the Regulation. This also means that these products must be designated by a responsible person based in the EU and that a Product Information Package (PIF) must be prepared. The PIF contains all the most important information about the finished product, its ingredients, packaging, the manufacturing process and the labeling of the product. The BIP also includes the Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR), which is the most valuable part of the BIP.

Products sold online in the EU must also have EU-compliant labeling and must be notified to the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP)Before they can be sold in one of the Member States.


Cosmetic products sold in Canada are regulated by Health Canada. They are subject to the provisions of Food and Drugs Actand the Cosmetics Regulations, Which includes requirements for the composition, safety, labeling and marketing of cosmetic products. In addition, cosmetics must also comply with the provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labeling Actand Regulation respecting the packaging and labeling of consumer products.

The same requirements apply to all cosmetic products sold in Canada, regardless of the method of sale. Cosmetics sold online must therefore also meet the requirements set by Canadian cosmetics regulations. This means that they must be safe to use, free from any prohibited substances or, in the case of restricted substances, in accordance with the conditions set out in Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. The Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist also includes warnings that must be displayed on the product, in case it contains certain restricted ingredients.

Like all cosmetics sold in Canada, those sold online must also be properly labeled and notified to Health Canada within ten days of their first sale in Canada. Notification can be made by the manufacturer, importer, distributor or a notifier acting on their behalf, by submitting the Cosmetic Notification Form (CFN).

United States

Similar to the EU and Canada, selling cosmetics online in the US requires the same regulatory compliance as for cosmetics sold in stores. Cosmetic products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must comply with Federal Law on Food, Drugs and Cosmetics (FD&C Law) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). In addition, there are also state specific regulations, such as the California Proposition 65 (Prop 65), which should be taken into account when selling your products in the United States. The FDA also maintains a list of banned and restricted cosmetic ingredients, and requires pre-market approval for color additives used in cosmetics. It is therefore important to verify that you are using an approved coloring additive; otherwise, the product will be considered adulterated.

As is the case in all countries, the United States also has specific labeling requirements, which cosmetics must adhere to. It is also important to stay within the definition of cosmetic product by avoiding any claims related to the drug or other non-cosmetic claims. Regarding registration, no pre-market approval is required for cosmetics sold in the United States, but companies are encouraged to participate in the Voluntary Cosmetics Registration Program(VCRP). However, it is important to note that registration of the cosmetic product can only be done after the product has already been sold in the United States.


Selling cosmetics online in China is very different from selling cosmetics in the store in China. In addition to general trade, China has developed Cross-border e-commerce (CBEC), which is international online business. It allows end users in China to purchase foreign brand products online. CBEC generally refers to the online commerce of a selected list of products imported from foreign countries through third-party e-commerce platforms, such as Tmall Global, Kaola, JD Worldwide, etc.

Products sold through CBEC are considered personal property and therefore benefit from customs clearance. Currently, 21 categories of cosmetics are on the positive list, which can be imported through 87 CBEC pilot cities in China, including the whole of Hainan province. This means that they do not require pre-market registration, which greatly facilitates market access. By selling your products through CBEC, you can avoid all general regulatory requirements related to trade. It also means that the products do not have to undergo animal testing, which is currently still mandatory and must be performed in approved laboratories in China.


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