Cosmetics come into closer contact with our bodies than perhaps any other products. We need to be sure that using shampoo will not cause our hair to fall out, that the toothpaste will not damage our teeth and that the face creams and sunscreen products will not harm our skin.
To ensure an adequate level of consumer protection, EU legislation on cosmetics requires that every cosmetic product placed on the market in Europe is safe to use. It dates back to the 1976 Cosmetics Directive: thus, the EU has had more than three decades to establish high uniform safety requirements across all Member States. Moreover, the rules have been amended over 50 times since 1976 in order to follow technical developments.
EU legislators are advised by scientific committees on issues related to the safety and allergenic properties of cosmetic products and ingredients. The safety of cosmetic products and their ingredients has to be underpinned by scientific assessment and testing, and the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) is fully equipped to play a role in this area.
International Cooperation on Cosmetic Regulation
The International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR) is an international group of cosmetic regulatory authorities from the United States, Japan the European Union, and Canada. This multilateral framework maintains the highest level of global consumer protection, while minimizing barriers to international trade. In this context, the IHCP collaborates with the Directorate General Health and Consumer Protection, providing scientific advice and technical support.
Trace of prohibited substances in cosmetic products
The Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (IHCP) is currently engaged in research to improve the understanding of potential health risks posed by harmful contaminants in cosmetics. Whereas the EU legislation prohibits the intentional use of harmful substances, like lead, in cosmetics, small impurities can easily be present in the raw materials.
On the one hand, good manufacturing practices must be used in the cosmetics industry in order to ensure that these impurities are maintained at levels which are protective for health. On the other hand, reliable analytical methods must be available in order to promptly detect products on the market that may contain higher levels of these dangerous contaminants. With its long standing experience in methods development and validation, the IHCP is fully equipped for this challenge.
Support to Innovation
The Cosmetics industry sector has an innovative nature, and the IHCP has a strong role to play. Continued vigilance is required on the application of new technologies in the cosmetics industry, like the use of nanoparticles as cosmetics ingredients. At the same time, the development of non-animal testing methods is a major challenge for EURL ECVAM (the European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing), hosted by IHCP.