Choosing a Responsible Person for your cosmetics brand: in-house vs outsourcing

Clare Daley
January 21, 2024
5 min read
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Choosing a Responsible Person for your cosmetics brand: in-house vs outsourcing

If you’re a cosmetic brand selling through Amazon in the European Union, you will be impacted by the online retailer’s latest update.

On 31st March 2024, Amazon is closing its Responsible Person Service – which means it will no longer undertake Responsible Person duties on behalf of your company. 

If you plan to continue selling cosmetics in Europe via Amazon after this date, you must appoint an alternative Responsible Person to represent your brand. 

You can choose whether to take on the role internally or outsource it to a third party. Here’s some helpful information on what’s involved in being the Responsible Person that may influence your decision.    

Why does your brand need a Responsible Person? 

A Responsible Person ensures that any cosmetics marketed and sold by your company in the European Union (EU) meet Regulation EC No 1223/2009. This includes any products given away as free samples. 

If you’re selling cosmetics in the United Kingdom, you’ll also need to designate a UK Responsible Person (UKPR) due to the Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013.

Your Responsible Person is the main contact point listed on your product compliance documentation. Their key obligations include: 

  • Maintaining Product Information Files (PIFs)
  • Ensuring your company follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)
  • Maintaining compliance with product nanomaterials and labelling 
  • Managing evidence to substantiate product claims 
  • Ensuring your brand has produced a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR)
  • Adding new products to the Cosmetic Product Notification Portal before launching them in EU member states  
  • Monitoring products and notifying authorities of any undesirable or serious side effects  

Failing to appoint a Responsible Person can result in legal action and financial penalties for your brand, which will also affect your reputation. 

How do responsibilities differ between the UK and EU? 

Responsible Person regulations were established when the UK was still part of the EU, and the UK has not changed the essence of RP legislation since Brexit. The responsibilities of the Responsible Person are the same in both regions, but they have made some practical adjustments to reflect newly-introduced agencies and registers. 

As the UK is no longer part of the EU, your brand must complete separate Responsible Person documentation in each region. Also, authorities need to be notified twice about new product launches, problems, side effects and so forth – once in Britain and once in the EU. 

Why is Amazon closing its Responsible Persons Service? 

To make cosmetics brands more accountable for their products, new EU legislation – the General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) – will apply from December 2024. This directive requires a Responsible Person to be appointed for all products being sold in the EU. 

Amazon’s decision to close its Responsible Persons Service pre-empts the GPSD’s introduction – meaning cosmetics and personal care brands currently relying on the service must appoint a new Responsible Person as soon as possible. 

Can someone else act as your Responsible Person? 

Understandably, taking over Responsible Person duties can feel daunting, especially if you run a lean organisation. You may not have the compliance knowledge or resources available in-house. 

The good news is that your Responsible Person doesn’t have to be an internal colleague. Instead, you can outsource requirements to an authorised representative, such as: 

  • Your manufacturer
  • Your chosen importer
  • Your distributor (if your products are white labelled under their name)
  • An appointed company or person named by your manufacturer or importer

In Britain, you must ensure that your third-party Responsible Person has a UK-established address – mail forwarding and PO Box addresses are not permitted. 

What are the advantages of outsourcing Responsible Person duties? 

If you’re using Amazon’s Responsible Person Service, you’ll already know the benefits of outsourcing the role. It’s less burdensome on your time and resources, and you don’t need ‘boots on the ground’ in every country you operate. 

For smaller companies, outsourcing your Responsible Person to a third party avoids having to recruit in-house compliance experts.  A cost will be attached to third-party support, but you’re only paying for the required service – not footing the bill for a full-time hire. 

However, using an authorised representative isn’t a sure-fire route to stress-free compliance. 

If you’re already outsourcing other aspects of your infrastructure to external partners, adding a new agency means another set of people to manage and communicate with. And it’s yet another cost for your business to bear. 

To minimise the investment and logistics involved in outsourcing your RP in the EU, it’s worth seizing the opportunity to review all your current partnerships. For example: 

  • Can your authorised representative manage all product and labelling compliance – not just Responsible Persons? 
  • Can they take over the role of an importer or distributor so you can gain greater control over your international operations? 
  • Can they support you with other aspects of your business – for example, translating product packaging and labels, developing international product formulas, and connecting your brand with regional authorities and experts? 

Hooley Brown can manage Responsible Person duties for your cosmetics brand as part of a value-added support package. We work with makeup and personal care companies monthly, supporting their export strategy and product compliance requirements. 

Interested in using an external Responsible Person? Book a free 30-minute consultation call with our Director, Clare Daley. 

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