Consumer products - Cosmetics - About the sector

The EU Cosmetic Product Regulation 1223/2009 defines cosmetic products as those that are applied on the external parts of the human body (e.g., hair, nails, lips, etc.) or teeth and oral cavity to clean, perfume, protect or keep them in a good condition as well as to change their appearance or correct body odours1

Compared to their bulk counterparts, nanoparticles used in cosmetics can provide improvements regarding dispersibility, skin penetration, increased colour and finish quality, aesthetics and performance and general use. Nanotechnology used in cosmetics can be divided into three overall categories: nano pigments used in, e.g., sunscreens, lipsticks and hair colorants; solid lipid nanoparticles used in, e.g., anti-ageing creams, anti-wrinkle creams; and nanosomes used in, e.g., perfumes, creams and sunscreens. Nanomaterials can be used as active ingredients or as carriers in cosmetics. As an ingredient, the nanomaterial may have various functions, such as titanium dioxide or Zinc oxide acting as UV filters in sunscreens, preservatives such as nanosilver or pigments such as carbon black and fullerenes. Carriers include liposomes, nanosomes, and ethanosomes. Nanocarriers are used in skin care formulations, like sunscreens and anti-aging creams, as they can go deeper, below the skin surface to give better results.2,3

According to the recent report by the European Commission, in the EU nanomaterials are commonly used in cosmetic products to carry out a function of colourants or UV filters. Such uses of nanomaterials in cosmetics were reported in approximately 96% of notifications to the Cosmetic Product Notification Portal (CPNP) in 2020. The CPNP data also shows that titanium dioxide, silica dimethyl silylate, silane, dichlorodimethil-, reaction products with silica, carbon black and silica were the most commonly reported nanomaterials used in cosmetic products (reported in 70% of notifications to CPNP). In 2020, sun protection products, nail varnish/nail make-up, oxidative hair care, foundation as well as lip care products and lipstick were most notified products to the CPNP in the EU4.

The catalogue of all nanomaterials used in cosmetic products in the EU was first published in 2017 and updated in 2019. The catalogue is publicly available on the EUON website.5



European Commission. (2009c). Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products. Official Journal of the European Union, 342, 59-209. Available at:

European Commission. (2019). The SCCS guidance on the safety assessment of nanomaterials in cosmetics. Available at:

Bernauer, U., Bodin, L., Chaudhry, Q., Coenraads, P. J., Dusinska, M., Gaffet, E., Panteri, E., Rogiers, V., Rousselle, C., Stepnik, M., Vanhaecke, T., Wijnhoven, S., Goetz, N., De Jong, W., & Simonnard A.  (2020). The SCCS guidance on the safety assessment of nanomaterials in cosmetics. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 112, 104611.

European Commission (2021). Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics and on the review of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on Cosmetic Products as regards nanomaterials. Available at: 

European Union Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON). (n. d.b). Catalogue of cosmetic ingredients. Available at: