Fact sheet: Labelling of cosmetics
In this fact sheet you can read about the requirements for labelling cosmetics, for instance, regarding the list of ingredients and contact information. The rules cover labelling of cosmetics, e.g. skin lotion, deodorant, soap, shampoo, hair removal products, hair dying and bleaching products, shaving cream, facial and eye make-up, tooth paste, nail polish and sun lotion.
Requirements for labelling of cosmetics
Containers and any exterior packaging for cosmetics must be labelled with the following information:
- Name and address of the enterprise- i.e. the head office for the manufacturer or name and address of the enterprise responsible for placing the product on the market within the EU. Name and address of the enterprise can be abbreviated provided that the abbreviation makes it generally possible to identify the enterprise;
- Weight and volume must be indicated. If a product is normally sold in multiple-application packs where weight and volume have no importance it is sufficient to write the number of units on the packaging. One example is wet wipes which are always sold in multiple-application packs. If the product is normally sold in single-application packs or if it is easy to determine the single item, it is not necessary to indicate weight or volume on multiple-application packs - this applies for instance to kits with lipsticks, eye shadows or colour sticks. Completely exempted from the rules are packages containing less than five grams or five millilitres, free samples and single-application packs;
- Usually, the date of durability (sell-by date) does not have to be included. The date of durability must be printed only if the durability of the product is less than 30 months. The date of durability must be clearly stated and consist of the month and the year accompanied by the following text: "Best used before the end of ...". If the durability is conditioned by the customer keeping the product in a special way, e.g. under cool temperatures, this must be stated. As to products that can last more than 30 months after having been opened, the date of durability must be written in or near the compulsory symbol (open box). This applies to products that may cause a health risk to the consumer if the product deteriorates;
- Safety instructions on how the customer can use the cosmetics properly - including special considerations as to cosmetic products used commercially, and especially, in hairdressing salons. If the information does not have to be printed on the container due to its shape or size, the information must be enclosed or attached to the product. In this case the label must inform the customer of the safety instructions in an abbreviated form or inform the customer with the special symbol shown at the bottom of this fact sheet (hand and book);
- The manufacturer’s serial number or reference must be indicated so that the time and place of manufacture can be identified. If the product is very small it is enough to write the number on the exterior packaging;
- What the product may be used for unless the use is clearly indicated from the appearance of the product;
- The list of ingredients must provide information about all ingredients, stated according to weight at the time they were added to the product. The list must start with the Danish word "ingredienser" or the English "ingredients" and it is sufficient to write the list on the label on the exterior packaging. If this is not possible due to the shape or size of the label, the list of ingredients can be enclosed or attached to the label. In this case the label must inform the customer of the safety instructions in an abbreviated form or inform the customer with the special symbol shown at the bottom of this fact sheet (hand and book). In case of soaps, bathing balls or other small products without packaging, the list of ingredients must be on a display next to the container from which it is sold.
Special requirements for the list of ingredients
The following special conditions apply:
- The ingredients must be indicated by the name used in the nomenclature of cosmetics as appears in "the list of cosmetic ingredients", INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients);
- Substances included in solvents or that carry perfuming or aromatic compounds in only the most necessary volumes are not considered to be ingredients;
- Perfuming and aromatic compounds and their raw materials must be listed as "perfume" or "aroma". The list of ingredients must state separately the 26 allergen compounds in perfumes and aromas;
Ingredients present in concentrations of less than 1 per cent can be listed in any order after those in concentrations of more than 1 per cent;
- Dyes can be listed in any order after the other ingredients;
For decorative cosmetics placed on the market in a number of colour nuances, all dyes must be listed as used in the series when only the words "may contain" or +/- are added. This applies for instance to lipstick, eye shadow, rouge, powder, mascara and nail varnish.
This information must be written in Danish, be visible, legible and indelible. In the list of ingredients cosmetic nomenclature must be used.
The rules aim at helping consumers
The rules aim at ensuring that consumers obtain important information about cosmetics. This may e.g. be what the cosmetics are used for, what they contain, and the date of durability (sell-by date). Information about any safety instructions and enterprise name and address must also be provided.
The person responsible for marketing is also responsible for compliance with the rules
The person responsible for marketing is also responsible for ensuring that the consumer is not misled - that the rules are complied with. This might be the manufacturer, importer, wholesaler or retail distributor. The person who places cosmetics on the market is responsible for the container, and that any exterior packaging is labelled with the required information.
The Environmental Protection Agency's chemical inspectors monitor compliance with the rules, and ensure that illegal situations are brought into compliance. This may involve withdrawing the product from the Danish market, or making the product legal in some other way. Anyone who breaches the rules may additionally be subject to a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.
The rules are available (in Danish) at the Retsinfo (legal information) website:
Statutory Order of the Ministry of the Environment no. 422 of 4 May 2006 on cosmetic products with later amendments ( Bekendtgørelse nr. 422 af 4. maj 2006 om kosmetiske produkter, med senere ændringer ) (in Danish). Part 3 is about labelling cosmetic products.
Read more about the INCI list (in Danish)
Read more about cosmetics (in Danish)
Symbol (hand and book)
Symbol (open box)