As a billion-dollar industry, it’s no secret that international shipping is a key player in a cosmetic business’ sales strategy. Expanding market reach across international borders increases your target demographic, improves sales, and helps you discover new trends in an increasingly competitive market. But knowing how to ship beauty products internationally can be complex.
Every beauty product has country-specific regulations and requirements before relocating across borders. Beauty products include cosmetics, skincare, fragrance, and hair care products. While unique challenges and high risks are involved when shipping beauty products to new territories, e-commerce businesses can take advantage of lucrative opportunities with the right strategy and international expertise.
This blog post will discuss businesses can successfully ship beauty products internationally while exploring regulations and restrictions in popular markets. Take a look at our seven essential tips to help you get the job done right.
How to Ship Beauty Products Internationally
The beauty industry is flourishing, with sales anticipated to exceed 120 billion USD by 2025, but high profits were not always the case. The industry drastically declined in 2020, leaving many businesses in unfamiliar territory. Online product sales, increased DIY beauty trends, and self-care routines revived the resilient beauty world overcoming the short-lived economic downturn.
Today, the demand for beauty products is stronger than ever. With the pressure to deliver, beauty business owners must develop an infallible shipping process to maintain business and expand their efforts.
Here are our top 7 tips for shipping beauty products internationally to ensure a compliant process with minimal errors.
1. Know Your Product and Its Ingredients
Capitalizing on popular trends is critical in selecting the right products to ship internationally; however, knowing your product and its components before shipping to your destination country is half the battle in achieving success. Different countries have varying laws and regulations regarding what ingredients are permitted in beauty products. For example, large amounts of formaldehyde, an ingredient often found in nail polish, are banned in Canada, France, and other European Union (E.U.) countries, as the ingredient could cause skin irritation. However, this ingredient is not prohibited in the U.S.
Hydroquinone is a common ingredient in many skincare products and works as a brightening agent to treat common skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation. Hydroquinone is banned in many countries like Japan and Australia for its health risks. Other ingredients that may be prohibited include lead and its compounds, parabens, and artificial fragrances commonly found in lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, and other self-care products such as deodorants or perfumes.
The United States has arguably the most lenient laws regarding beauty products, as cosmetic products and ingredients (other than color additives) do not need approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they go on the market. The E.U. has stringent regulations regarding which ingredients are permitted for beauty products and offers a list of prohibited ingredients for review. Similarly, Canada provides a Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist to help beauty product sellers determine what components are allowed.
It’s essential to stay relevant to the latest health updates, as regulations often change with frequent quality assessments.
2. Research International Regulations and Restrictions
Understanding international regulations and restrictions simplifies your shipping process and mitigates issues to prevent unwanted fees or delays. The specific documentation required to ship beauty products will vary based on country-specific regulations and the nature of your products. To ship a beauty product to Canada, it must meet the Food and Drugs Act (FDA) requirements and Cosmetic Regulations(C.R.). Additionally, commercial cosmetic imports are subject to approval by the FDA. The Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) defines cosmetics as,
“articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.”
Certain cosmetics could be mistaken as drugs if not appropriately defined. For example, a product claiming to treat or prevent any disease would be considered a drug according to the FD&C Act. Despite being marketed as a cosmetic, the product in question would be regarded as a drug and thereby unable to ship internationally.
Cosmetic registration is not mandatory in the United States; however, as of August 7, 2023, the FDA issued draft guidance on cosmetic product facility registrations and product listings to provide recommendations and assistance for those completing registration. This guidance was mandated by the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (MoCRA) to facilitate stricter safety regulations on beauty products manufactured in the U.S.
The E.U. enforces strict regulations to protect the safety of its consumers. E.U. regulations require the following:
- Appoint a responsible person to ensure compliance with all the necessary articles
- Clear and proper labeling of product with the date of minimum durability specified
- The product must comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
- The responsible person is required to perform a safety assessment of the product
- Documentation must include product category, country of origin, safety regulations, and other notification details
Appointing a responsible person is critical when shipping to Europe, as they ensure all international shipping compliance regulations.
Proper labeling is also essential for preventing customs from seizing your products. In Australia, cosmetic goods are required to follow the Consumer Goods (Cosmetics) Information Standard 2020 for labeling. Cosmetic labels must include the following:
- Ingredient information on the product
- Ingredients must appear in descending order calculated by either mass or volume
- Labels must include if color additive, flavor, or fragrance is included in the product
If your product contains hazardous ingredients or flammable liquids, it’s vital to ensure that your labeling reflects those elements to avoid unsafe shipping hazards.
3. Choose the Right Shipping Services
While speed and rate of service are key factors when choosing a shipping carrier, it’s also important to select a vendor with extensive global knowledge. Partnering with a vendor with international shipping expertise prevents unknown surprises that could arise when transporting beauty products across borders.
You’ll also want to consider the shipping options you want to offer your customers. For example, standard shipping is typically 3-5 business days, economy is 1-5 business days, and express is within 24-72 hours. Customers may prefer choosing from a selection of delivery options to suit their needs and budget.
A shipping rate calculator can help determine how taxes, customs duties, and shipping zones affect your overall rate.
4. Properly Package Your Beauty Products
Securing beauty products for international travel is vital in preventing damage during transit. Strict packaging guidelines exist for liquid products, creams, and fragile items. For example, liquids must be sealed in a leak-proof, water-proof container with any hazardous materials adequately labeled on the packaging.
Delicate makeup products like eyeshadow palettes and lotions must be sealed properly and secured with cushioned packaging materials like packing peanuts and bubble wrap to avoid tampered packaging during travel.
Perfumes containing alcohol are not permitted for air travel but may be shipped by ground transportation within the United States. The same guideline applies to certain nail polish products that are flammable; however, nail polish may be mailed domestically or through ground travel.
5. Complete Accurate Customs Documentation
Now that you’ve learned how to securely and legally ship your items, gathering all the documentation necessary to send them overseas is a critical next step. Every country has varying laws, regulations, import duties, and prohibited items to be aware of. It’s essential that your customs documentation accurately reflects the product you intend to ship, its purpose, value, and country of origin.
A customs declaration form is arguably the most important document you will need, as it contains a detailed list of goods being imported or exported to a country.
Customs Declaration: Lists the details of goods imported or exported to a country.
Commercial Invoice: Itemized document including information like the beauty product name, accurate description, quantity, unit price, and currency.
Certificate of Origin: A document declaring where the goods originated and were manufactured.
US merchants can also obtain specific certifications like the Certificate of Free Sale (CFS), an official document certifying your product’s eligibility to be sold and distributed freely within a permitted country or jurisdiction. A CFS, also known as a Certificate for Export, is only recognized in some countries and is typically only issued for certain products, including cosmetics.
6. Addressing Customs Duties and Taxes
After you gather the documentation required to ship your product internationally and select your shipping method and speed, calculate your customs duties and taxes to prevent unwanted roadblocks when dealing with customs.
A customs duty is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when relocated across international borders. Each country has unique rules and regulations to follow when transporting products, with various taxes and fees to be collected. Calculating every component to ship products overseas may be challenging, but many tools can help you navigate the complex process.
The Harmonized System (H.S.), a global classification system, defines your product with a code before shipping. If your product is classified improperly in your documentation, your products could be seized with customs authorities or destroyed. This classification also helps customs determine duties, taxes, or additional fees applicable to your shipment.
7. Partner With ePost Global
Shipping beauty products may seem complex, but with the right logistics partner, the process can be simplified to help you increase your target market and ship compliantly without the hassle. At ePost Global, we handle everything right from the start of your international shipping process. We’ll assist with customs duties, tariffs, and manage all required documentation to guarantee an error-free process.
International shipping comes with a host of complexities that may require help managing when navigating multiple shipping tools. We take care of the paperwork and ensure your shipments reach their destinations promptly to help reduce customs, regulations, or packaging delays.
We recognize that every business has important needs, and we work to meet those needs by offering flexible shipping options with transparent shipping costs and stellar customer service. With over 25 years of experience in the ever changing world of international shipping and logistics, we can help you achieve your goals of broadening your business.
Get in touch with ePost Global today to learn more about shipping beauty products internationally.