Cosmetic products and cannabis under the EC Cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009

The rising trend

Nowadays, cannabis products are gaining more and more popularity around the world and the same is true for its use in cosmetic products.  As far as compliance is concerned, there are two main issues to take into account: the THC content (which needs to be very low for use in the beauty care industry) and which part of the raw material is used.

Distinction of compounds

Cannabis has many different compounds and it is necessary to understand which elements of this raw material can be legally used and which others cannot. Two of its most famous compounds are certainly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive compound of the plant which is still illegal in many countries around the world, while CBD is the non psychoactive compound which can be safely used for different purposes and products. It should be however emphasized that there are also restrictions for CBD usage in cosmetics – dependent on  the part of the plant from which it is extracted.

What about its use in cosmetics for the EU Market?

The first essential requirement for a compliant cosmetic product that contains cannabis is to ensure that the raw material has no psychoactive properties: to this aim, only cannabis plants with tetrahydrocannabinol content inferior to 0,2% are eligible for use. Accordingly, it is advised the use of industrial hemp which will usually suffice this requirement, as long as a certificate confirming the low THC content is provided.

Furthermore, the EU Cosmetic Ingredient Database (CosIng) lists different parts of the cannabis plant, which are allowed or prohibited for use in cosmetic products. Because of the prohibitions established on United Nations level, cannabis sativa resin, flower and leaf extracts are forbidden for use. At the moment, only raw materials related to cannabis seeds and stem can be used: e.g. Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil; Cannabis Sativa Stem Powder; Cannabis Sativa Leaf/Stem Water; etc.


Alessandro Polimeno

Research & Development (R&D) Department

October 11, 2019


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