Natural essential oils are often considered to be completely safe. This is based on the common misconception that all herbs are safe because they are natural. However, many essential oils and their constituents have a high sensitising potential and sensitisation can occur via dermal exposure or by inhalation.

Guidance on essential oils in cosmetic products

Guidance on essential oils The document released in 2016, Guidance on Essential Oils, aims to address the quality factors and risks associated with essential oils used in cosmetic products. More specifically, the guidance covers the importance of the quality of essential oils and of the starting materials from which they are obtained and provides recommendations on the risk assessment of essential oils and the potential implications when including them in cosmetic products. The document is intended for operators and, in particular, responsible persons in the cosmetics industry whose obligations are to ensure the safety of cosmetic products in accordance with European and national cosmetic legislative frameworks. Furthermore, it is intended to support safety assessors carrying out the safety assessment of cosmetic products, as well as competent authorities in reviewing these assessments.


  • The electronic version of this publication can be downloaded FREE OF CHARGE online
  • A Spanish version is now available online FREE OF CHARGE thanks to the Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios. For more information, please visit the AEMPS website