What you need to do to make your own cosmetics and sell them legally

You've made a cosmetic product that you, your friends or family love, but are confused on what you need to do to make your cosmetic legal for sale in the UK and Europe?


Creating cosmetics a fun, rewarding and satisfying thing to do.

Big brands generally target a one size fits all approach, but your individualised approach and care for the choice of your ingredients, based on efficacy rather than straplines will help you make effective skincare that fits your ethics and skintype.

We are all so used to taking individual ingredients to make our dinners, breakfasts and lunches, but cosmetics have lagged behind, with a myth and hidden complexity on how to make them. If you can bake a cake, you most certainly can produce a cosmetic.

Friends & Family

Once you have made a cosmetic product, you may find you absolutely love it.

You may give your cosmetic product to friends and family and having been able to select the ingredients for specific skin types and conditions, you may have created a product that really works.

With friends and family loving your products and visibily better skin throughout your family, you may decide to take your product to market at sell it.

but then....


Cosmetic Law

Cosmetic Law and regulations can seem highly daunting at first.

In many ways cosmetics are more regulated than food and drink, with tight controls on ingredients, tests and manufacturing methods.

Nobody makes your local butchers test a Steak & Kidney pie in the same way you will need to test your cosmetic product.

However, this need not put you off. This page aims to help you understand the cosmetic regulations you need to adhere to legally bring your product to market.

The basics checklist to create a legal cosmetic product for sale within the UK and EU


Ensuring your product does not contain any restricted ingredients, if it does, they are within permitted restrictions

Before you submit your cosmetic formula to a safety assessor for a CPSR, it would be best to make some basic checks yourself. This will ensure that you do not have to make costly amendments to your formulation.

Many safety assessor will charge for changes from the original formulation, so try to avoid any problems by refering to the EU maximum levels (these EU levels have been adopted into UK Cosmetic Regulations post Brexit).

The following links will help you find access to banned and restricted ingredients / substances within the EU:

Prohibited Substances in cosmetics: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:02009R1223-20190813&from=EN#tocId71

Substances that should not be in cosmetic products except in the listed circumstances: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:02009R1223-20190813&from=EN#tocId72

List of colourants allowed in cosmetics: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:02009R1223-20190813&from=EN#tocId73

List of preservatives allowed in cosmetics: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:02009R1223-20190813&from=EN#tocId75

List of UV filters allowed in cosmetics: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:02009R1223-20190813&from=EN#tocId77

The essential oils and fragrances that you want to add will also have restrictions. As a baseline legislation tends to use the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) guidelines to determine safety.

More information can be found at: https://ifrafragrance.org/safe-use/introduction

If you use essential oils in cosmetic formulations, then as a rule of thumb keeping the cumulative level under 2% normally means you will be ok. There are however exceptions such as products including Rose, Jasmine, Ylang, Carrot that have additional restrictions.

How we can help

Zero Waste

Use our Zero Waste Service to help you design your products and keep you within safe levels.


Companies such as ourselves won't sell ingredients that are completely prohibited in the UK / EU

Lab Service

If you submit a formula for a CPSR with our lab service, we will not charge to lower the levels of any restricted substances in your formula.




Ensuring your product, if it contains water will pass a Preservative Efficacy Test

All cosmetic products are required to pass a Preservative Efficacy Test (PET) if they contain water. If your product doesn't contain water then you will not need to worry about this. A preservative efficacy test, tests how well your product stands up against bacteria and fungus and whether it is within the definitions defined by cosmetic safety law.

Water encompasses items you may not originally think of, for example Aloe Vera Juice, Witchazel and some extracts. So make sure you look completely through the ingredients you are including.

Preservatives play a very important part in the safety of your product. Without them, bacteria and fungus can form that would potentially bring harm to the user.

When choosing a preservative, think about your formulations. Some preservatives are oil soluble, whilst others are water soluble. Most preservatives will have data about their suggested usage level. Providing you use fresh ingredients and your product is stable. You shouldn't have any problem passing a PET test. The single biggest reason for customers failing PET is an unstable product. This causes the preservative to seperate from some of the ingredients, allowing them to subsquently form bacteria.

At Naturallythinking unfortunately we no longer offer PET testing services (it wasn't economical in the quantities we were testing), however companies such as Oxford Biosciences (https://oxfordbiosciences.com/) can offer you these services. Our advice before ever performing a PET Test is to make sure you product is stable first! The PET Test is the most expensive part of all testing, so don't waste your money, as it will never pass a PET Test if it is not stable.

How we can help

Zero Waste

Use our Zero Waste Service to help you design your products and keep you within safe levels without having to worry about preservative levels and PET Tests.

Naturallythinking Cosmetic Bases

You can use our cosmetic bases that contain water and work within our guidelines for a CPSR (Click here). Your products will automatically pass the PET Test requirements providing you stay within our limits set.



Your product needs to be stable and you need to calculate the "shelf life" of your product

A stable cosmetic product is a good product. If your product is not stable, then a customer will not get to use it how you intended. As well as the obvious disappointment, this can cause safety concerns, with ingredients seperating into potentially hazardous seperate components.

Ensuring product stability is key. If you cosmetic product doesn't contain water, but is oil based, this is relatively easy. A blend of oils will not seperate and your product will remain stable.

If your product is made from an emulsion of oil and water, then you will need to ensure there are enough emulsifiers to keep your product stable throughout the lifetime.

You will need to measure how long your product remains stable for and in turn, this will dictate the shelf life of your product. For most, using the services of companies such as Oxford Biosciences to determine the stability will provide the final testing data. However, you can make basic tests at home that will ensure your product is stable before spending money on professional testing.

Freeze-Thaw testing is a basic test that will show whether your product has some basic durability.

Time, the easiest but slowest test is time. Simply produce your product and leave it at room temperature for a year. If it lasts a year without any change in physical form or scent, then you know your product will last a year. Although this is a slow process, a year soon passes by and if you have plans for the future... there is no better time than to get your sample testing now.

How we can help

Zero Waste

Use our Zero Waste Service to help you design your products and keep you within safe levels. Our products will automatically have a 12 month expiry date.

Naturallythinking Cosmetic Bases

You can use our cosmetic bases that contain water and work within our guidelines for a CPSR (Click here). Your products will automatically receive a 12 month expiry date.


Your product if it does not contain water, contains suitable ingredients to stop oxidisation

If your cosmetic product contains essential oils or fragrance, these will easily oxidise and leave your product with a rancid scent.

Adding just 0.2% Vitamin E can stop this, so we always advise adding this to your product. You can add additional Vitamin E to add skin anti-oxidisation benefits.

How we can help

We provide two different kinds of Vitamine E, the natural (tocopherol) and the synthetic (tocopheryl acetate) versions. Below shows the pro's and con's of each.

Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Will oxidise relatively fast, so the benefits of the Vitamin E will be shorter and less effective. However, a 100% natural product and perfect for natural formulations

Tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E)

Highly effective at stopping oxidisation of skincare products and fragrances, giving much longer antioxidisation properties, but has the downside of being a synthetic product.


You have documented all the ingredients and batches of ingredients to create your product and have a copy of all the safety data sheets for your ingredients. Culminating in the creating of a Product Information File (PIF).

It is important that you keep a record of all the ingredients that you put in your product. Not only do you need to document them when you first make them, you need to keep a record of the batch of ingredients you use in each batch of product you make.

Your Product Information File (PIF) should include details of the purpose of your product, batches, ingredients / MSDS and any testing information you have. You should also document any feedback you have from the public and any retifications you have had to make. It is important to include a recall procedure, should you need to recall your product.

Your product information file should include a copy of your label image and any version changes, including the INCI listing of your product on the label.

How we can help

You can download all of the SDS for the ingredients we sell under the "technical" tab of the relevant product page.

In addtion you can download the COA for each individual batch of ingredients you purchase online.


The label on your product contains the minimum information required by law, including an INCI (ingredient listing) of your product

Every product requires an INCI listing (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient). This is the ingredient list you find on products. The ingredients have to be written in the correct form and in descending order. Each ingredient should be seperated by a comma. Ingredients included in your product up to 1% can be listed in any order at the end of your listing.

In addition, there are allergens which are required to be listed as part of your ingredient list. These are naturally occuring components of essential oils and fragrances.

How we can help

If we produce your CPSR with our labs service, we will also produce your ingredient listing to print on your product.