The lowdown on the Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP)
Jun 2, 2021 · 3 min read
In the United States, cosmetics manufacturers are not required to register their products with the Food and Drug Administration. Cosmetic products must be safe and accurately labeled, but unless they also fall under the regulatory category of “drugs,” they don’t have to be approved by the FDA before going to market.
Nevertheless, creators do have the option to register cosmetic products with the FDA, and doing so is promoted as part of running a responsible cosmetics business.
What is the VCRP—and what isn’t it?
The VCRP, short for Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program, is a scheme enabling cosmetic companies to register products with the FDA. The FDA runs the program in order to understand what products and ingredients are on the market, and who is marketing them.
Participating in the program helps the FDA with safety reviews, and if an ingredient is ever determined to be harmful, having a central registry allows the FDA to get in touch with manufacturers who use that ingredient more quickly and reliably. Basically, signing up for the VCRP contributes to upholding industry-wide safety standards.
The Personal Care Products Council describes itself as “the leading national trade association representing cosmetics and personal care products companies,” and says that its 600 member companies represent more than 90% of the beauty industry. VCRP registration is a key component of the PCPC’s Consumer Commitment Code, a series of product-safety measures that the group encourages cosmetics companies to take.
The VCRP is NOT a licensing or approval process. It is not a promotional tool. It is not certification that the FDA has recognized the product as a cosmetic. Even once a firm registers a product with the VCRP, it is still solely responsible for making sure it is safe and that it is labeled accurately, in compliance with the law.
How would I register with the VCRP?
A company who wishes to participate can register a cosmetics manufacturing or packaging facility by filing Form FDA 2511. To register a product, a company would file Form FDA 2512. To register a change to a product or a notice that a product has been discontinued, it would use Form FDA 2512-A.
If you have a facility or a product you’re interested in registering, you can get started online at the FDA’s VCRP participation page. Or, you can download forms, print them out, and send them in.
How widespread is the VCRP?
At the time of writing, the most recent data available were from March 2021. That month alone, there were 809 individual products filed, and 112 new online accounts were added. Since the September 2018 rollout of the online system, 18,797 new products in total had been registered. Since the 1972 beginning of the VCRP itself, the FDA says, 38,767 active products were on file, and 118,670 had been discontinued.
Up-to-date figures can be found at the FDA’s website.
Where can I learn more?
To learn about the VCRP, the FDA site is a good place to start. If you are preparing to launch a product, consider registering it with the VCRP, and contribute to the industry-wide effort to improve safety standards and reporting.
Richard Block is an editorial jack-of-all-trades at Goldn
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