HomeA-Z of terms and ingredientsCosmeceutical


The term "Cosmeceutical" is not an official, legal category of product.

However "cosmeceutical" is a marketing term often used within the industry and in the press to describe cosmetic products that are intended to have actions and effects that go beyond the purely decorative, e.g. 'performance' cosmetics.

A product is either a cosmetic or a medicine and cannot be both at the same time. There are very clear legal definitions for a cosmetic and for a medicine - and that's it, there is no 'third' category.

The manufacture of cosmetic products is highly regulated, and legislation in the UK, EU and other international countries clearly state the definition of a cosmetic (and medicines legislation defines what a medicine is).

As with many areas of life, there is a 'borderline' between cosmetics and medicines. However, a company marketing a product near the borderline between these two categories has to decide whether the product is one or the other and then comply with the appropriate legislation.

The claims made for a cosmetic product are legislated for by at least three means:

  • in the UK there is the Trades Descriptions Act covering all descriptions made regarding a product or its attributes. This Act does not allow it to be implied, directly or indirectly, that a product has characteristics that it does not have;
  • specific UK cosmetics legislation requires that claims made on the pack must be capable of substantiation;
  • there is the control of print and broadcast advertising administered by the Advertising Standards Authority and Clearcast (see www.asa.org.uk).

No one cosmetic product can be suitable for everybody, but all cosmetic products should deliver the effect claimed. Personal preference, and the fact that our bodies are all different, makes it important to have a wide choice.

The UK legal regime for cosmetics and medicines is a modern, flexible system that provides a high level of consumer safety and meets the demands of a modern economy, including a competitive marketplace. The EU model of regulation for cosmetics has been intergrated into UK regulation. It is highly regarded internationally and has been used as a model by other countries and trading blocks when introducing their own cosmetics legislation. We expect this situation to carry on in the future.


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