Which products are ‘cosmetic products’?

‘Cosmetic products’ refers to substances or mixtures that are intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body, such as:

  • skin,
  • hair,
  • nails,
  • lips and external genital organs; or
  • teeth and mucous membranes of the oral cavity.

The purpose of cosmetic products is exclusively or mainly to clean, perfume or protect these body parts, to change their appearance, keeping them in good condition, or correcting body odours.

Cosmetic products include:

  • creams, emulsions, lotions and gels for the skin;
  • face masks;
  • soaps and hair cleaning products;
  • perfumes and other body fragrances;
  • depilatories
  • deodorants and anti-perspirants;
  • hair dyes and products for waving or straightening hair;
  • hairdressing products;
  • shaving products;
  • products for making up and removing make-up;
  • dental and oral care products;
  • products intended for nail care;
  • products for external intimate hygiene;
  • sun protection products and self-tanning products; and
  • skin-bleaching products.

Substances or mixtures intended to be ingested, inhaled or injected in the human body are not considered to be cosmetic products. For example, colourants used in tattoos and permanent pigmentation of eyebrows, lash lines or lips or highlighting of them with the microblading technique are not regarded cosmetic products but fall within the scope of EU chemicals legislation.

Borderline products

The manufacturer, importer and distributor of a product must ensure that the product is correctly classified before it is placed on the market in the EU/EEA. Classification of products is important because different legislation applies to the import, sale and marketing of different product groups.

If it is uncertain whether a product is regarded as a cosmetic, medicinal or biocidal product or a medicinal device requiring a CE marking the classification is carried out on a case by case basis. All of the product’s properties, such as composition and the mechanisms of action of its ingredients, and marketing claims related to it affect the classification.

The Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea may classify some products as medicinal products or devices based on purpose of use or marketing claims, for example.