European Commission Now Allows Natural CBD in Cosmetics

Back in February 2021, the European Commission (EC) permitted the use of natural CBD in formulating cosmetic products. The decision followed a November 2020 court ruling that the substance was not a narcotic

The EC’s move has started to bring clarity to a matter that has been confusing many for a long time. 

cbd cosmetics

What’s changed?

Essentially, EC’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs added two new substances to the EU CosIng database. This is their database containing information about cosmetic substances and ingredients, and their uses.

They include the naturally-derived cannabidiol that comes from the leaf and other parts of the Cannabis Sativa L. plant. 

The first entry is CBD derived from extract, resin, or tincture of hemp. Its functions include anti-sebum, anti-oxidant, and skin conditioning and protection. 

The second entrant is cannabis sativa leaf extract. Similarly, its functions include skin conditioning and it’s also used as a skin softener.

In late 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that the entire cannabis plant shouldn’t be classified as a narcotic. 

Consequently, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) moved to request the EC to update the CosIng database. 

The Commission granted the plea and added the two CosIng entries for CBD derived from the roots and flowers of cannabis. 

Why have these changes been made? 

Several professionals and experts in the cosmetics industry have previously said that the regulation concerning CBD products was unclear. 

This situation had created a disparity in the compliance of EU member states. However, things are beginning to shift, thanks to the new entries. 

Until February 2021, the CosIng database had only permitted synthetic CBD. 

However, the EU Cosmetics Regulation (EC No. 1223/2009) allowed the use of CBD derived from leaves, stems, and some other parts of the cannabis plant. 

Further confusion arose concerning the hemp flower extracts. While most member states disallowed CBD derived from flowers, some permitted it. 

Presently, the CosIng database lists natural CBD derived from cannabis resin or extract and leaves as distinct cosmetic ingredients. 

Of course, the catalogue is only informative and doesn’t serve a legal purpose. 

However, the CosIng guides the member states and helps to synchronise cosmetic product marketing on the continent. 

What’s the difference between synthetic and natural CBD?

So, what exactly is the difference between synthetic and natural CBD? Well, most of the over-the-counter supplements you buy are not organic substances. 

While they are made in a laboratory, these compounds are pretty much identical to their natural counterparts. 

Similarly, synthetic CBD is manufactured in the lab using chemicals and biomolecules. However, it is bioidentical to the hemp plant-derived cannabidiol. Moreover, it affects the body in the same way its natural counterpart does. 

Why, then, has the EU placed strict regulations around the naturally-derived ingredient in the past?

If you manufactured cosmetics from the natural compound, the products would probably contain low CBD concentration. 

Worse still, they could have trace tetrahydrocannabinol. Many jurisdictions regard CBD that contains over 0.2% of THC as a narcotic, including the UK. 

That’s why several countries in the EU place stringent measures on the sale of CBD-containing products. 

On the contrary, EU regulations do not label any synthetic CBD product as a narcotic. They only place restrictions on natural compounds that come from flowers or fruits of the hemp plant. 

However, this regulatory framework was complex, even for experts in the cosmetic field. 

What does the new development mean?

The addition of the two fresh natural CBD ingredients to the catalogue presents a new era in the cosmetic industry. 

First, it clarifies the regulation around the use of these compounds in manufacturing cosmetics. Also, more manufacturers are certainly going to use CBD in production and on a larger scale. 

Moreover, the update in the regulation may spark a heavier investment in research, innovation, and development of CBD products. 

Bigger cosmetics players are likely going to invest more in developing fresh and independent brands. Also, they could extend their current lines of products. 

Consequently, this situation may increase consumer interest and product demand.  

Before the change in the EU regulation, manufacturers and marketers had a hard time dealing with the sourcing of CBD and its products. 

They had to engage in lengthy and complex talks with several entities before making or marketing these substances. These included investors, regulators, wholesalers, retailers, and payment transactors.

The new regulatory landscape removes barriers from the road of manufacturing and marketing CBD cosmetics. Soon, you are going to see more of these products on the market. 

Better still, more consumers are set to benefit from what’s going to be on the counter.  

Also, the new regulation could lead to claims validation. In the past, companies have only been able to make general claims. 

However, the time has come for them to produce solid evidence about the efficacy of their specific CBD products.

What’s next for CBD cosmetics companies?

This good news for the CBD industry does not mean the game is over. 

EIHA managing director Lorenza Romanese said the CosIng updates revealed the rewarding work her organisation did. However, she was quick to add that there was more to do in that area. 

While the EC updated the CosIng database, it’s important to note that the catalogue is not legally valuable. 

This means it is up to each EU Member State to regulate the manufacture and marketing of natural CBD cosmetics. 

For instance, the UK recently recognised the CosIng database as an important guide in the country’s regulations. 

However, Austria still restricts the marketing of cosmetics containing this natural ingredient. 

Also, to sell cosmetic products, you need to conduct safety assessments in line with the Regulation and the CosIng. 

Therefore, brands that would use CBD in their cosmetics should consider the amount of time, research, and cost to put in. 

These companies must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that these products are safe for humans. 

The EC Now Allows Natural CBD In Cosmetics: Conclusion

The inclusion of the two new ingredients in the CosIng database marks a revolution in the CBD cosmetics industry. 

Since the catalogue’s function is to coordinate cosmetic product marketing in all EU states, several members are likely to oblige. 

As a result, more companies will look to manufacture cosmetics that contain natural CBD – widening the potential of the market.

To find out more about the specific CBD regulations in the UK, check out our guide to CBD oil and UK law. Or, if you’d like to know more about getting into the CBD business, contact us today to find out how we can help you!

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