UK perfumers and EU Cosmetic Regulations post Brexit. Now What?

18th February, 2019

On 29th March 2019 the EU will remove UK cosmetics from their database. Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays is holding a series of workshops to discuss the issue.

For the last 40 years all UK cosmetics companies have complied with EU regulations, and since 2013 every single cosmetic has needed a safety certificate and been registered on the EU portal in order to be sold legally and safely. Cosmetics companies, small and large, have all invested a lot of time into building this up.

On March 29th this all (probably) changes. All products which were registered and tested in the UK will be wiped off the portal, unless there is an EU27 responsible person to take the place of our UK based ones.

In the meantime, the UK doesn’t yet have a system for us to use. We can expect our own regulations to be stricter than the EU27, because we have a specialist - the British man who chaired the EU commission - who actually thought the EU rules weren’t strict enough. (Sigh.)

Right now we’re being treated as part of the chemicals industry, and also as part of the pharmaceuticals industry by the UK government, and we’re told to carry on as normal.

If UK cosmetics makers want to continue to sell within the EU 27, we all have to appoint a responsible person in one of the EU countries to upload our data to the portal, and to take calls if needed; we can no longer do this ourselves. We also have to do this by the 29th March. At 4160Tuesdays we’re planning for this.

EU companies will have to do the same within the UK, which they can’t yet because the structure doesn’t exist. For this reason, some EU cosmetics companies are already closing down their UK operations. That, and the huge extra cost of duplicating the work they’ve already done, and the risk of their products being stuck in customs for months.

In the meantime, IFRA is already adapting all its guidelines to comply with forthcoming EU regulations because it’s an international organisation, so we’ve got those updates to deal with too. If we don’t comply, we risk making unsafe cosmetics, and being prosecuted by Trading Standards.

As we’re directly affected by this at 4160Tuesdays, from complying with IFRA right through to uploading our data on to the EU portal, we’ve collected all the intelligence that we can, and assembled it into something we can share.

We’re running an afternoon meeting, symposium, conference, tea party on Friday February 22nd, to be followed up with a whole day workshop on March 22nd, as we hope to know more by then. The venue is 4160Tuesdays in Acton, unless we get really busy and have to move out, in which case we’ll book a nice room in a pub because we’ll probably need gin.

If you were thinking of starting a cosmetics company, or if you’re already trading in the UK and the EU27, come over and meet us, and people in the same boat, and make sure that this doesn’t catch you out.

(Frankly, most of the time we just want to hide under the duvet and pretend it isn’t happening, but it looks as if it really is, and we don’t want to get caught out.)

You can book your place at this link here.

  • Share this

About the author: Sarah McCartney

Sarah McCartney is the perfumer and founder of 4160 Tuesdays.



    Advertisement — comments are below


      • hednic | 18th February 2019 17:25

        Wow, that seems like there's a potential for a real mess in that region regarding fragrances.

      • broguesforsir | 18th February 2019 19:09

        EU27 importers of cosmetic products manufactured in the UK will become responsible persons for these products "by default" - European Commission published guidelines. The alternative is to appoint a responsible person, it’s not a requirement.

        Unlikely the UK will adopt stricter regulations rather than simply assimilate existing EU regs, to be honest.

      • HauteParfumGourmand | 18th February 2019 19:25

        If only we could find a way to review the scientific testing behind the EU regulations of materials such as oakmoss. There are snippets of comments from scientifically minded people that call out the results/methodology. I really do hope that things don't become even more dogmatic than EU regulations here in the UK. I know the petitions submitted a few years ago to the EU didn't yield any results but could there be a way for perfume lovers and experts to contest dogmatic restrictions? If by any miracle we could avoid stricter regulations or maybe even start using lost materials that aren't as deadly as believed, I think it could increase competitiveness. Of course there will be lots of cost and worries, but despite the bedlam and instability, I think everyone should take an optimistic approach.

        Obviously regulations are important with industries such as gambling, and if all cosmetic regulations were scrubbed, people will of course take advantage with nefarious schemes in mind. But I really hope our country won't be perceived as a "nanny" country where citizens lose out on choice due to excessive regulations backed by potentially inaccurate research. Didn't we also have a grand perfume history?

        Personally I think there is a real opportunity amongst this despair.

        All the best for all the businesses attending the workshops.

      • jumpfrog | 18th February 2019 19:31

        Another example of how Brexit will make life that much harder for UK business.

      • broguesforsir | 18th February 2019 20:24

        I agree. Very good points, well made. I know there is a lot of uncertainty and I may be missing something in my take on it above but I am also optimistic an arrangement will be agreed. If there isn’t, I agree, it doesn’t have to be seen as automatically bad in terms of regulations.

      • thrilledchilled | 18th February 2019 22:42

        the regulations are ridiculous. If they compelled disclosure, and let the consumer decide it would be fine.

        I believe they were always about favoring synthetic AC manufacturers more than anything else.

        Maybe more good stuff will come out of USA and Asia that will be based on good raw materials and non-compliant with stupid EU or maybe British regulations.

      • 4160Tuesdays (article author) | 19th February 2019 15:25

        For the moment, yes, as they are too busy to set up an entirely new regime, the UK is planning to copy all the EU ones straight over. However, it's not yet in place. There are some vociferous UK dermatologists who would like to take this opportunity to increase regulations, but they will probably duplicate and adopt the forthcoming EU ones.

      • 4160Tuesdays (article author) | 19th February 2019 15:28

        One of this issues is that consumers with allergies don't know what they're allergic to. They often assume it's synthetics, when it's the chemicals produced by plants to defend themselves, which occur naturally in essential oils. The secrecy is to protect intellectual property, because perfume formulas can't be patented or copyright. I could disclose my formulas but I choose not to because I'm already at a disadvantage against companies with budgets. The other reason is that we'd need much bigger boxes to list everything in the formulas.

      • broguesforsir | 19th February 2019 19:35

        Ah, thanks for the clarification.

        There’s always someone in the medical field hell-bent on making a name for themselves, isn’t there? Let us hope such zealots are not given licence.

      • Funwithfrags | 21st February 2019 14:09

        This is pretty much it. The EU is a long way from perfect, but unfortunately it has been protecting us from some of the worst excesses of the UK state for a while now. I expect things to get worse over time as borrowed EU regulation gets replaced.

      • Palmolive | 21st February 2019 14:25

        Evian EDT and EDP coming this winter! A UK exclusive!

        Top notes: Trace mineral accords, atmospheric currents

        Mid notes: dihydrogen monoxide

        Base notes: hydrohydroxic acid

        Bought to you by Emperor Parfums.

      • 11Mic22hael33 | 24th February 2019 16:42

        I have an idea, why don't WE lobby our governments to dismantle and BAN the IFRA??? It's time to start fighting back. How ridiculous is it to ban a perfume ingredient just because it may cause skin irritation on certain users? How about just requiring the perfume house to put a warning on every bottle of perfume that reads, "Warning, some ingredients in this product may cause skin irritation on some individuals. If irritation occurs, discontinue use." How simple is that? Why are we allowing the IFRA to ruin the art of perfumery? It's disgusting, the tyranny we put up with. When do we start fighting back? I have a theory to what is going on with IFRA, and it is simply this, NATURAL God-given fragrances from natural sources, such as Oak Moss for example, can NOT be patented! Therefore, billions of dollars can not be made by the companies that produce synthetic fragrance chemicals. The IFRA was most likely set up by these companies with the goal of banning or restricting natural fragrance oils, and replacing them with synthetic chemicals. Pretty soon, ALL perfumes, edt's and colognes will smell like Axe body spray!!! The longer we allow this to go on, the more natural ingredients will be banned or restricted. And they pour millions of dollars into phony "studies" to make sure more harmless natural substances are named "harmful" and replaced by chemical POISONS! The art of perfumery is dying. And for WHAT??? Enough is enough!!! We CAN put an end to this insanity!

      • Palmolive | 24th February 2019 16:47

        If your vote could actually change anything you wouldn't have one hence why the lobbying approach is a non starter.

        The whole shell game of IFRA/Aroma chemical suppliers/Perfumers is a scam of the highest order as evidenced by the pitiful excuses they peddle for their motivations as they're all huddling in the same financially sound bed.

      • 11Mic22hael33 | 24th February 2019 17:02

        Lets band together and demand IFRA be investigated for fraud. If we can prove their collusion with the synthetic fragrance producers we can get IFRA dismantled and banned. This scam is destroying the art of perfumery and we CAN put a stop to it! We can't just throw our arms up in the air in defeat. We HAVE to fight back!

      • rum | 25th February 2019 10:45

        Exactly. I seriously fear for our hobby's future here in the UK... and this article highlights the source of the issues is not the EU but Britain itself. Wonderful article, Sarah - thanks so much!

      • furrypine | 25th February 2019 17:02

        A few posts have been deleted. Passionate arguments are fine but no name-calling, please.

      • cazaubon | 2nd March 2019 16:53

        Comments removed for political content, please refrain from political discussions.

      • Paradeiserl | 2nd March 2019 22:29

        Well, getting UK fragrance shipped to the EU is already a big problem itself - even without BREXIT.

        As the transport companies with prohibitions, when it comes to the shipment of perfume - terrible. Pure idiocy!

        With year to year worse!

      • Esoteric | 3rd March 2019 17:13

        IFRA... let's ban natural plant extracts and replace them with cheap chemicals manufactured by giant corporations (Firmenich).

        When will people wake up?