Health assessment of Cosmetics

Products which come into contact with human skin must be non-hazardous to health. The BfR assesses the risks of cosmetic products - from lipstick to tooth bleaching agents - with the support of the Cosmetics Committee.

Skin cream, toothpaste, shampoo - for the BfR, cosmetics not only include decorative cosmetics such as lipstick or make-up but also all substances and preparations which are exclusively or predominantly intended to be applied externally to the body or in the oral cavity. This also includes suntan lotions, soap and other personal care products. Their common feature is that they are used for cleaning, keeping the skin and body in good condition, as perfumes and scents or to change a person's appearance. For the BfR, ensuring that cosmetic products are safe for consumers to use takes top priority.

Approval and notification

Cosmetics are not subject to approval. Only certain ingredients and additives like preservatives, colorants or UV filters have to be approved.

At the same time, however, producers of cosmetics must guarantee that their products do not pose any risk based on safety assessments.

The European Commission operates an internet portal via which cosmetic products have to be notified before they are marketed. Among other things, manufacturers are obliged to enter the formula of their product so that the poison centres can access the details in the course of their advisory work. Information on nano-sized ingredients must also be entered.

The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety provides more information on the notification process at www.bvl.bund.de/EN.

Where necessary, the BfR assesses the ingredients of cosmetics with regard to their health safety. 

The assessments also cover fragrances, ingredients of hair dyes and tooth bleaching agents, and UV filters.

Advisory role

The BfR advises the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture on the health risk assessment of cosmetics.

Legal bases

  • German Food and Feed Code (LFGB)
  • German Product Safety Act (ProdSG)
  • Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009

Opinion 23



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