EC and ECHA announce clarity on REACH and the Cosmetics Regulation


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EC and ECHA announce clarity on REACH and the Cosmetics Regulation

Related tags Animal testing Cosmetics

The European Commission, in cooperation with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), has clarified the relationship between the marketing ban and the REACH information requirements after there was confusion over whether animal testing can take place.

According to the announcement, substances used in cosmetic products may need to be registered under REACH but, under certain circumstances registrants may not have to carry out new tests on animals.

He confusion arises as in order to meet the requirements of the new Cosmetics Regulation cosmetic products are prohibited to be placed on the market where the final formulation, ingredients in a final formulation or a finished product, have been subject to animal testing.

However, those same chemical ingredients may, however, also need to be registered under REACH, which has created some uncertainty about whether testing on animals can take place in order to comply with REACH, or whether it should not, in order to comply with the Cosmetics Regulation.


The official EC/ ECHA wording clarifying this issue can be seen below and essentially means that the testing and marketing bans in the Cosmetics Regulation do not apply to testing required for environmental endpoints, exposure of workers and non-cosmetic uses of substances under REACH.

It also means that registrants of substances registered exclusively for cosmetic use will still have to provide the required information under REACH wherever possible, by using alternatives to animal testing, such as computer modelling, read-across, weight of evidence etc.


European Commission/ ECHA clarity on REACH and The Cosmetics Regulation

  • Registrants of substances that are exclusively used in cosmetics may not perform animal testing to meet the information requirements of the REACH human health endpoints, with the exception of tests that are done to assess the risks to workers exposed to the substance. Workers in this context, refers to those involved in the production or handling of chemicals on an industrial site, not professional users using cosmetic products as part of their business (e.g. hairdressers).
  • Registrants of substances that are used for a number of purposes, and not solely in cosmetics, are permitted to perform animal testing, as a last resort, for all human health endpoints.
  • Registrants are permitted to perform animal testing, as a last resort, for all environmental endpoints.


The announcement will be welcomed by many in industry who have been confused by the different requirements and needed the Commission to offer clarity.

From an animal rights perspective, PETA has made its own announcement, saying in an email that while the Cosmetics Regulation is an important and big step forward, there is more to be done.

“Despite the clear mandate from the public and international governments on this issue, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is still insisting on testing chemicals used in cosmetics for which there is a possibility of workforce exposure during manufacturing processes,”​ says a statement from the organisation.

It goes on to state that the ultimate goal is for innovative alternatives to be put into place so that ingredients are not tested on animals no matter what the circumstances are.

Related topics Regulation & Safety Animal Testing

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