There are very strict laws governing all cosmetic products sold and, as it is a law, there are serious implications if products breach the rules. As a nail professional, it is your responsibility to ensure, as far as possible, that you only buy and use legal products. This is for your safety and the safety of your clients. Also, in the event of an insurance claim and your insurer found that the product used was illegal then the policy will be invalid. It’s all very well knowing that but how can you tell if a product is compliant and therefore legal? Here are some simple guidelines to help you:

1. The Label

There are a number of things that MUST be on the label of every product

  • The name and address of the ‘Responsible Person’ in the company selling the product
  • The country of origin. NB any product manufactured in any EU country has just needed ‘Made in the EU’. However, next year (2021) this will change. Only products made in the UK do not need the country of origin. Labels must state any country outside of the UK
  • The declared quantity of contents eg ml or gm
  • Date of minimum durability. This only applies to products with 30 months or less durability eg some oils and creams. This is in the shape of an hourglass. Most nail products have a long durability before opening
  • Period after opening. This is shown as an open jar with a number on it eg. 24. This shows it is usable for 24 months after opening
  • Warning statements. eg flammable. It may also have a statement such as ‘for professional use only’. NB from next year, 2021, all products containing HEMA and di-HEMA must have ‘for professional use only’ and ‘can cause an allergic reaction’. This is because products containing those ingredients will be banned from retail sales
  • Batch code. This is important if there should be a problem with the product. Every new batch made by the manufacturer must have a specific code so it can be traced. eg every colour of polish will have a different batch code and this will change when a new batch is made. this is often a telltale sign of non-compliance! eg everything will have the same code or there will be none at all
  • Declaration of ingredients. This is essential and must list every ingredient (unless the % is tiny) from the highest to the lowest. NB this is different from the SDS (see below). The ingredients must also use their correct INCI name (This is the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients. This is so every country uses the same wording e.g., water is aqua.Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

2. The Safety Data Sheet

SDS have taken over from MSDS and become globally standardised in a 16-section format. It is not a legal requirement for cosmetic products to have an SDS. However, it is essential for those that have hazardous ingredients. Every nail professional should undertake a COSHH assessment and they are needed or this. They should also be available in case of a first aid emergency, fire, and info on storage.  SDS do not give a full list of ingredients but they do list the hazardous ingredients and the approximate percentage. NB be very wary of a supplier who does not have SDS available or even if they only have MSDS which are very outdated and often with random information.

3. Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP)

It is a legal requirement for ALL cosmetic products to be registered on the CPNP before putting them on the market! This is not information that is readily available except to the Competent Authority which in the UK is the Health & Safety Executive. The requirements for this registration are very specific and very strict. For example, there must be Product Information File that contains:

  • the product description
  • cosmetic product safety report
  • details of manufacture in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice
  • proof of the effect claimed
  • data on animal testing (banned globally)

The product safety report must be carried out by a suitably qualified professional. This process is expensive for those selling and supplying products and, unfortunately, it is very clear that many don’t follow these rules! An individual cannot check if this has been done. However, there is no reason you cannot ask for a screenshot of products on the register as proof the supplier is legal! There are many, many more regulations but these mostly apply to the supplier or brand.

Again, for those that like reading the documents, here are some useful links: The ‘Brief Guide’ on this link is very useful


Written by

Marian Newman, BEM