Guest article

Brexit and the UK cosmetics industry: a view from CTPA


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Brexit and the UK cosmetics industry: a view from CTPA

Related tags Cosmetic products European union United kingdom

In this guest article, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) outlines what the Brexit vote means for the UK cosmetics industry and how companies should be responding.

On 23 June, the United Kingdom voted in favour of leaving the European Union. The immediate reaction included quite a bit of speculation and some misinformation but one thing is clear: until Article 50 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is invoked, the UK is still part of the EU, just as it was before the vote. This fact has been stressed by the UK government in its Customs Information Paper.

All of the UK’s existing laws, regulations and guidelines remain unchanged as of now. In particular, the Cosmetic Products Regulation EU No 1223/2009 (CPR) still covers all cosmetic products placed on the UK market and will continue to do so unless and until something concrete happens to change that situation.

In practice, it still means cosmetic products are safe, it still means they must be of good quality and it still means they must do what they claim. In particular, all the requirements relating to the use, or more accurately the prohibition on the use, of animals in the testing of cosmetics remain in place. The referendum outcome has not weakened these bans in any way.

Keeping the CPR

The UK competent authority for cosmetic products and CTPA both agree it would not be in the best interests of either the consumer or the industry for the UK to abandon the CPR in its entirety and set about trying to develop something unique to the UK as a replacement.

The consumer wants safe, effective and high quality cosmetics that have not been tested on animals; the cosmetics industry delivers this today; and the CPR currently ensures all these needs are met. Indeed, the CPR and its predecessor, the Cosmetic Products Directive, have done so very successfully for the past forty years and serve as a model for the regulatory regimes in many other parts of the world.

Technical modifications

Post-Brexit, the UK will almost certainly retain the existing CPR as its core cosmetics legislation since to do otherwise would introduce unnecessary regulatory burdens to UK and EU operators alike trying to cope with two separate systems. However, some technical modifications will be necessary to ensure the UK version of the CPR continues to work effectively.

Retaining some facilitated access to the EU market  would provide benefits both to the UK and the EU since we import from the rest of the EU as much as we currently export to it. In particular, in order to ensure effective enforcement both in the UK and the EU post-Brexit and avoid duplication of effort, some system of mutual recognition ought to be established for experts such as safety assessors and Responsible Persons as well as enforcement authorities.

Brexit open seminar and further info

CTPA has positioned itself as a key source of factual information through the creation of a dedicated section of its website on Brexit where members can find factsheets, information, guidance and links to other authoritative sources.

We are also holding an open seminar on Brexit in London on the 5 October as advertised on the CTPA website​ - all are welcome. Through these actions, we intend to minimise the risk of members making key business decisions based on rumour or unsubstantiated information.

It is important not to second-guess what future decisions might be made regarding the UK and the CPR and take hasty actions that might be unnecessary or wrong. We also want to reassure the public that our primary aim of ensuring the cosmetics industry provides safe, effective, high-quality products remains unchanged.

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