Import Cosmetics- the Complexities of Cosmetics Importation to the USA: A Comprehensive Guide


Exploring the Ins and Outs of Importing Cosmetics into the USA

The American beauty industry is all about ideas and variety as consumers are constantly on the lookout for new and interesting cosmetic items from different parts of the world.

For many companies, this offers an opportunity to bring cosmetics into the US market, which is renowned for its size and consumer buying power.
Nevertheless, dealing with the web of import rules, logistics and adherence can seem overwhelming.

This in depth guide will provide you with the information to effectively bring cosmetics into the USA.

Getting to Know Regulations; FDA and More

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays a role in overseeing imported cosmetics in the USA.

It’s important to note that although pre market approval isn’t mandatory for cosmetics by the FDA, they do uphold regulations to guarantee product safety and correct labeling.

Critical points include:

Ingredient Limitations

Certain ingredients, such as mercury and specific color additives, are either banned or regulated in cosmetics.
Importers need to examine the FDA’s list of restricted ingredients to ensure compliance.

Meeting Labeling Requirements

The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA) stipulates details that must be included on product labels, such as product identity, quantity, manufacturer or distributor information and, a list of ingredients. Ensuring compliant labeling is crucial to prevent any delays or rejections during the import process.

Registration and Listing

Although not obligatory, the FDA encourages manufacturers and distributors to register their facilities and list their products through the Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP). This act showcases a dedication to transparency and adherence to regulations.

The Import Process - From Sourcing to Shipping

Importing cosmetics entails a set of defined procedures;

Identifying Suppliers

It is essential to find suppliers who comply with US regulations and quality standards. Conducting research verifying suppliers credentials and conducting sample testing are steps before finalizing any agreements.

Selecting Shipping Methods

Depending on your shipment size and urgency you can opt for air freight, ocean freight, or express shipping. Express and Air freight are the expensive options while ocean freight is more cost-effective for larger shipments.

Understanding Documentation

Accurate and complete documentation plays a role in ensuring customs clearance handling.
Essential documents for importing goods include invoices, packing lists, certificates of origin, and a bill of lading or airway bill.

When it comes to calculating duties and taxes for imported cosmetics the rates can vary based on the product classification and its country of origin.
Seeking advice from a customs broker can assist in determining the rates and ensuring payment is based on the correct classifications.

HTS Codes for Cosmetics: A Starting Point

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) categorizes goods for import and export purposes, assigning specific codes to different product types. For cosmetics, several HTS codes may apply depending on the specific product and its ingredients. Here are some starting points for your research:

Chapter 33: This chapter covers essential oils and resinoids; perfumery, cosmetic or toilet preparations.


3304: Beauty or make-up preparations and preparations for the care of the skin (other than medicaments), including sunscreen or suntan preparations; manicure or pedicure preparations.

Lipsticks: Traditional bullet-style lipsticks in various colors, finishes (matte, glossy, satin, etc.), and formulations (cream, liquid, etc.).
Lip glosses: Liquid or semi-solid products that add shine, color, and sometimes subtle shimmer to the lips.
Lip liners: Pencils or crayons used to define the lip shape and prevent lipstick from feathering.
Lip stains: Products that provide a long-lasting tint to the lips, often with a lightweight or watery consistency.
Lip balms: Products primarily intended to moisturize and protect the lips, but may also offer color or shine.
Lip primers: Base products applied before lipstick to create a smooth canvas and improve lipstick longevity.
Lip plumpers: Products formulated to temporarily enhance lip volume, often containing ingredients that stimulate blood flow.
Lip scrubs: Exfoliating products designed to remove dead skin cells and leave lips feeling smooth.
Lip masks: Treatments that provide intense hydration and nourishment to the lips.

This HTS code encompasses a wide array of products specifically designed to enhance and accentuate the eyes. Here’s a closer look at what falls under this category:

Product Types:

Mascara: Products used to darken, thicken, lengthen, and define eyelashes. They come in various formulas (waterproof, volumizing, lengthening) and colors.
Eyeliner: Products used to line the eyes, creating definition and enhancing eye shape. Available in pencil, liquid, gel, and pen formats, with various colors and finishes.
Eyeshadow: Products applied to the eyelids to add color, depth, and dimension. Available in powder, cream, liquid, and stick forms, with a vast range of colors and finishes (matte, shimmer, metallic, etc.).
Eyebrow pencils/powders/gels: Products used to fill in, shape, and define eyebrows. Available in various shades and formats to match natural hair color and achieve desired brow styles.
Eye primer: Base products applied to the eyelids before eyeshadow to create a smooth canvas, enhance color payoff, and improve eyeshadow longevity.
False eyelashes: Artificial eyelashes applied with adhesive to create a fuller, longer lash look. Available in various lengths, thicknesses, and styles.
Eyelash glue: Adhesives specifically designed for applying false eyelashes.
Eye makeup remover: Products formulated to gently and effectively remove eye makeup, including waterproof formulas.

Additional Considerations:

Ingredients: Eye make-up products contain a diverse range of ingredients, including pigments, oils, waxes, film-formers, and preservatives. It’s crucial to ensure that the ingredients comply with FDA regulations for cosmetics.
Packaging: Eye make-up preparations come in various packaging formats, such as tubes, wands, compacts, pencils, pots, and bottles.

This HTS code covers a range of cosmetic powders used for various purposes, including makeup application, skincare, and personal hygiene. Here’s a breakdown of what falls under this category:

Product Types:

Face powders: Loose or pressed powders used to set makeup, control shine, mattify the skin, and even out skin tone. They come in various shades and finishes (translucent, matte, luminous).
Setting powders: Finely milled powders used to set liquid or cream makeup, preventing smudging and fading while extending wear time.
Finishing powders: Powders applied as the final step in a makeup routine to blur imperfections, minimize pores, and create a soft-focus effect.
Body powders: Powders used to absorb moisture, prevent chafing, and provide a smooth, silky feel to the skin. They may also offer fragrance or deodorizing properties.
Talcum powder: A traditional body powder made from talc, known for its absorbent and anti-chafing properties.
Foot powders: Powders specifically formulated to absorb moisture, control odor, and prevent fungal infections in the feet.
Dry shampoo: Powder-based products used to absorb excess oil and refresh hair between washes.

Additional Considerations:

Ingredients: Cosmetic powders can contain various ingredients, including talc, silica, starches, clay minerals, pigments, and fragrance.
Packaging: Powders come in different packaging formats, such as loose powder jars, compacts with pressed powder, and shaker bottles.

3305: Preparations for use on the hair.
This HTS code encompasses a broad range of products specifically designed for hair care, styling, and treatment. Here's a closer look at what falls under this category:

This HTS code specifically covers hair care products designed to cleanse the hair and scalp. Here’s a closer look at what falls under this category:

Types of Shampoos:

By Hair Type:

Normal hair shampoos: For balanced cleansing and maintenance of healthy hair.
Dry hair shampoos: Formulated with moisturizing and nourishing ingredients to hydrate and soften dry hair.
Oily hair shampoos: Designed to remove excess oil and sebum buildup from the scalp and hair.
Fine/thin hair shampoos: Volumizing formulas that add body and lift to fine or thin hair.
Thick/coarse hair shampoos: Smoothing and moisturizing formulas to manage thick or coarse hair.
Curly hair shampoos: Specifically designed to cleanse and define curls while minimizing frizz.

By Function:

Clarifying shampoos: Deep cleansing formulas that remove product buildup, chlorine, or hard water minerals.
Color-protecting shampoos: Formulated to prevent color fading and maintain vibrancy in color-treated hair.
Dandruff shampoos: Medicated shampoos containing ingredients like pyrithione zinc or selenium sulfide to control dandruff and scalp flaking.
Anti-hair loss shampoos: Formulated with ingredients that may help strengthen hair and reduce hair loss.
2-in-1 shampoos: Combined shampoo and conditioner formulas for convenient cleansing and conditioning.

Additional Considerations:

Ingredients: Shampoo formulations vary widely, including surfactants for cleansing, conditioning agents, thickeners, preservatives, and fragrance. Some shampoos may also contain specific active ingredients to address particular hair concerns.
Packaging: Shampoos typically come in plastic bottles with flip-top caps or pump dispensers.
Sustainability: Growing consumer awareness has led to the development of eco-friendly shampoo options, such as concentrated formulas, solid shampoo bars, and refillable packaging.

This HTS code covers products specifically designed to chemically alter the structure of hair, creating either permanent waves (curls) or straightening effects. Here’s a closer look at what falls under this category:

Product Types:

Permanent wave solutions: Chemical solutions used to break and reform the hair’s disulfide bonds, creating permanent curls or waves. These typically involve a two-step process:

Waving lotion/solution: Contains chemicals that break the hair’s bonds, allowing it to be reshaped.
Neutralizer: Applied after the waving lotion to halt the chemical process and reform the hair’s bonds in their new shape.
Hair straightening/relaxing solutions: Chemical solutions used to permanently straighten curly or wavy hair.

These also typically involve a two-step process:

Relaxer/straightening cream/lotion: Contains chemicals that break the hair’s bonds, allowing it to be straightened.
Neutralizer: Applied after the relaxer to halt the chemical process and reform the hair’s bonds in their new, straight configuration.

Additional Considerations:

Ingredients: Permanent wave and straightening solutions contain various chemicals, including thioglycolic acid, ammonium thioglycolate, sodium hydroxide, and guanidine hydroxide. 

This HTS code specifically covers hair styling products designed to provide hold and control to finished hairstyles. Here’s a closer look at what falls under this category:

Types of Hair Lacquers:

By Hold Strength:

Light hold hairsprays: Offer flexible hold and natural movement, ideal for fine or thin hair.
Medium hold hairsprays: Provide moderate hold and control, suitable for a variety of hairstyles and hair types.
Strong hold hairsprays: Offer firm hold and control for structured styles or for hair that needs extra support.
Maximum hold hairsprays: Provide the strongest hold and control, ideal for updos, intricate styles, or hair that is difficult to manage.

By Finish:

Aerosol hairsprays: The most common type, dispensed as a fine mist for even distribution.
Pump hairsprays: Dispensed as a liquid spray, often offering a more targeted application.
Non-aerosol hairsprays: Environmentally friendly options that use alternative propellants or pump mechanisms.

By Additional Benefits:

Volumizing hairsprays: Contain ingredients that add lift and body to hair.
Shine-enhancing hairsprays: Provide a glossy finish to hair.
Humidity-resistant hairsprays: Formulated to combat frizz and keep hair smooth in humid conditions.
Thermal protectant hairsprays: Offer protection from heat styling tools.

Additional Considerations:

Ingredients: Hair lacquers typically contain polymers that form a film on the hair, providing hold and control. They may also include solvents, propellants, plasticizers, and fragrance.

Note: This information is for general guidance. Always refer to the official Harmonized Tariff Schedule and consult with a customs broker for definitive product classification under HTS codes.

These are just a few examples, and the precise HTS code will depend on your specific product's characteristics and ingredients

You are welcome to try BINA classifier here: >>BINA HTS Code Lookup<<

In Conclusion;

Importing cosmetics into the USA offers interesting and promising prospects; however success relies on planning, compliance with regulations and a comprehensive understanding of the importation process.

By following this guidance along with conducting research, you can confidently tackle the intricacies of importing cosmetics and establish a presence in the US market!
Make sure to consult with us or with customs brokers and regulatory advisors for assistance to guarantee a seamless import process.

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eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

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