European Cosmetic Regulation and US Regulation Act (MoCRA)

Blog post: Navigating the Regulatory Maze: A Look at EU Regulation 1223/2009 vs. US Cosmetics Regulations and MoCRA

Dr Cuross Bakhtiar at

4/3/20245 min read

brown wooden book shelves with books
brown wooden book shelves with books

Navigating the Regulatory Maze: A Look at EU Regulation 1223/2009 vs. US Cosmetics Regulations and MoCRA

The world of cosmetics is a vibrant tapestry, adorned with innovative products promising to enhance our appearance and well-being. However, behind the scenes lies a complex web of regulations ensuring these products are safe and effective. This article delves into the regulatory landscapes governing cosmetics in the European Union (EU) and the United States (US), with a specific focus on the EU's Regulation 1223/2009 and the recently enacted US Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MoCRA) of 2022. By exploring the key differences and areas of alignment, we can gain valuable insights into the evolving world of cosmetic regulation.

EU Regulation 1223/2009: A Harmonized Approach

Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009, often referred to as the EU Cosmetics Regulation, establishes a harmonized framework for the safety assessment, manufacturing, marketing, and labeling of cosmetic products across all member states. Key aspects of this regulation include:

  • Positive Lists: The regulation specifies positive lists of permitted ingredients for colorants (Annex IV), preservatives (Annex V), and UV filters (Annex VI). This approach ensures only pre-approved ingredients can be used in cosmetics marketed within the EU.

  • Negative Lists: Conversely, the regulation also maintains negative lists outlining ingredients strictly prohibited (Annex II) or subject to restrictions (Annex III). These restrictions might involve limitations on concentration, product type, or labeling requirements.

  • The Responsible Person: EU regulation mandates the appointment of a "Responsible Person" within the EU who is legally responsible for ensuring the product's compliance with the regulation. This individual acts as a single point of contact for authorities and can be a manufacturer, importer, or distributor.

  • Safety Assessment: A safety assessment is mandatory for all cosmetic products placed on the EU market. This assessment is conducted by a qualified safety assessor and includes a thorough evaluation of the ingredients, potential risks, and intended use of the product.

  • Cosmetic Product Notification (CPNP): Cosmetic products entering the EU market must be notified through the CPNP portal. This notification process provides authorities with an overview of the products available in the market.

The US Cosmetics Landscape: A Focus on Pre-Market Approval

In contrast to the EU's harmonized approach, the US regulatory system for cosmetics is considered less stringent. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) forms the foundation of US cosmetics regulation, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responsible for enforcement. Here's a breakdown of key aspects:

  • Pre-Market Approval: Unlike the EU, the US system doesn't require pre-market approval for most cosmetics. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe, but there's no formal approval process before market launch.

  • Ingredient Regulation: The FDA maintains a list of color additives approved for use in cosmetics. However, there are no positive or negative lists for other cosmetic ingredients, allowing for greater flexibility in formulation.

  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP): While not mandatory for cosmetics, the FDA recommends adhering to GMP guidelines to ensure quality control and product consistency.

  • Cosmetic Labeling: The FDA mandates specific labeling requirements for cosmetics, including ingredient listing, net quantity content declaration, and warning statements for potential allergens.

  • Cosmetic Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS): The FDA maintains a voluntary reporting system for adverse events experienced with cosmetic products. This system allows the FDA to identify potential safety concerns.

The Winds of Change: The US Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MoCRA)

Recognizing the need for a more robust regulatory framework, the US Congress passed MoCRA in December 2022. This landmark legislation introduces significant changes to the US cosmetics regulatory landscape, bringing it closer to the EU model in some aspects:

  • Facility Registration: MoCRA mandates the registration of all cosmetic manufacturing facilities with the FDA. This provides greater transparency and traceability within the supply chain.

  • Product Listing: Cosmetic companies will be required to submit product information to the FDA, including details on ingredients, labeling, and potential safety concerns. This creates a more comprehensive database of cosmetic products on the US market.

  • Cosmetic Responsible Person: Similar to the EU, MoCRA introduces the concept of a "responsible person" who would be designated by the manufacturer and be responsible for ensuring compliance with the regulations.

  • Safety Substantiation: While not pre-market approval, MoCRA requires manufacturers to have substantiation for the safety of their products. This could involve safety assessments or historical use data.

  • Enhanced Enforcement Powers: MoCRA grants the FDA greater authority to conduct inspections, order recalls, and impose penalties for non-compliance. This increased oversight aims to improve product safety and consumer protection.

Areas of Alignment and Points of Divergence

While the EU and US regulations differ in structure, there are also areas of alignment:

  • Focus on Consumer Safety: Both regulatory frameworks aim to ensure the safety of cosmetic products for consumers. This is achieved through safety assessments (EU) or safety substantiation (US) and adherence to good manufacturing practices.

  • Labeling Requirements: Both the EU and US require certain information to be displayed on cosmetic labels, such as ingredient listings, net quantity content declaration, and warnings.

  • Adverse Event Reporting: While voluntary in the US, both systems encourage manufacturers and consumers to report adverse events associated with cosmetic products. This allows authorities to identify potential safety concerns.

However, key points of divergence remain:

  • Level of Regulatory Control: The EU maintains stricter control through positive lists, mandatory safety assessments, and the "Responsible Person" concept. MoCRA introduces some of these measures but still allows for more flexibility in formulation compared to the EU.

  • Focus on Ingredients: The EU focuses on pre-approved ingredients, while the US allows for greater ingredient innovation with the requirement for safety substantiation under MoCRA.

  • Pre-Market Approval: The EU mandates pre-market safety assessments for all products, while MoCRA doesn't require pre-market approval but emphasizes post-market safety monitoring.

The Future of Cosmetics Regulation: A Global Perspective

The global cosmetics industry is constantly evolving, and regulations are likely to adapt alongside it. Here are some potential future trends:

  • Harmonization of Regulations: Increased collaboration between regulatory bodies could lead to a more harmonized approach to cosmetics regulation globally, potentially drawing on aspects of both the EU and US frameworks.

  • Focus on Emerging Technologies: As advancements in biotechnology and nanotechnology impact the cosmetics industry, regulations may need to adapt to address the safety assessment of novel ingredients and production methods.

  • Sustainability and Transparency: Growing consumer interest in sustainability and ethical sourcing of ingredients might influence regulations to promote environmentally friendly practices and greater transparency in the supply chain.


Understanding the differences and areas of alignment between EU Regulation 1223/2009 and the US cosmetics landscape, including MoCRA, is crucial for navigating the complex world of cosmetics development and marketing. As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, staying informed about these changes ensures compliance and ultimately contributes to the safety and efficacy of the cosmetic products we use every day.

Additional Notes:

  • This article provides a general overview. Specific regulatory details can be intricate and subject to change. It's recommended to consult with legal and regulatory experts for the latest information.

  • The impact of MoCRA is still unfolding as the FDA develops implementing regulations.

Further Exploration:

This article provides a solid foundation for understanding the key differences in cosmetic regulations. Here are some ways to expand it to over 3000 words:

  • Case Studies: Analyze how companies have navigated the regulatory landscape for specific cosmetic products, highlighting challenges faced and strategies employed when dealing with both EU and US regulations.

  • Expert Interviews: Interview regulatory consultants, cosmetic industry lawyers, and representatives from regulatory bodies to gain insights into the future of cosmetics regulation and potential areas of convergence between the EU and US.

  • Emerging Regulatory Trends: Explore emerging regulatory trends in other countries with significant cosmetics markets, such as China and South Korea. Discuss how these trends might influence global harmonization efforts.

By incorporating these elements, you can create a comprehensive and informative resource for anyone involved in the cosmetics industry, offering valuable insights into navigating the ever-changing world of cosmetic regulations.