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Cosmetic Products

The basics

Cosmetics and personal care products are applied to the human body for the purposes of cleaning, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or changing its appearance.

Ranging from antiperspirants, fragrances, make-up and shampoos, to soaps, sunscreens and toothpastes, cosmetics and personal care products play an essential role in in all stages of our life.

Specifically, there are seven categories of cosmetics and personal care products - oral care, skin care, sun care, hair care, decorative cosmetics, body care and perfumes. Further examples are listed in the diagram below.

People have been using cosmetics for thousands of years, and today, the vast majority of Europe’s 500 million consumers use cosmetics and personal care products every day to protect their health, enhance their well-being and boost their self-esteem. Learn more about the benefits of cosmetics and personal care products.

The market penetration of some cosmetic and personal care products in the EU is likely to be near 100%. For instance, deodorant usage is close to total in the UK, with 94% of women and 87% of men using deodorants, while in France, 98% of adult women and 94% of adult men use liquid shampoo.

In terms of the frequency with which cosmetic products are used, differences can be observed across countries, between people of different genders and ages and for different cosmetic products. A sample of data for some of the most widely used cosmetic products is given in the diagram below.

Cosmetics are regulated to ensure safety, governed mainly by the European Union’s (EU) Cosmetics Regulation. To learn more, read Understanding the Cosmetics Regulation.

Our industry works hard to provide information because knowledge about cosmetics and their ingredients underpins consumer confidence in the products they use. The Cosmetics Regulation sets out labelling requirements to provide consumers with the information they need.

Beyond labelling, we provide information to consumers through other means, including marketing and communications. Learn how we inform the consumer.

Every cosmetic and personal care product on the market in Europe is safe to use. We state this with confidence because safety is the primary concern of all manufacturers. Moreover, European Union legislation requires all new products to undergo an expert scientific safety assessment before they are launched for sale. Learn about the activity we undertake to ensure safety.

Learn more about cosmetics and personal care in your country.

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