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What are the definitions of cosmetics and cosmetic active agents?


The German law for dealing with food, tobacco products, cosmetic products and other utensils (LMBG, Section 4, para 1): 

In terms of the law cosmetics are substances or formulations of substances that are intended for the external use on the human body or inside the mouth. Their purpose is to provide cleansing, care or influence looks or body odour or to convey olfactory impressions, unless they are mostly intended to alleviate or to eliminate diseases, ailments, physical injuries or medical conditions.

The German law does not define cosmetic active agents. It only stipulates what they are not allowed to. Cosmetics may not have systemic effects. However, there is a "grey area": e. g. aroma therapy. For cosmetics there are no restrictions regarding penetration, permeation and "effects from the inside" (like vitamin A). Under certain conditions the LMBG (Law for dealing with food, tobacco products, cosmetic products and other utensils) also permits pharmaceutical active agents in cosmetics.

Dr. Hans Lautenschläger

Please note: The contribution is based on the state of the art at the revision date.

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Revision: 27.05.2021