It is now more important than ever that specific ingredients are only put up for official review if there are solid scientific concerns about their safety, says an industry trade association.
In the last couple of years a number of cosmetic ingredients have received particular attention and the Cosmetic Toiletry & Perfumery Association (CTPA) has warned that some ingredients that are challenged may be lost, not because they are unsafe, but because they are not defended.
“Without ingredients there would be no cosmetic products,” says the UK-based industry body.
“As an industry we are able to respond to the growing needs of consumers for more innovative and high performance products due, in the main, to a wide potential palette of available cosmetic ingredients.”
The problem, notes CTPA, is that the pool of ingredients is constantly being challenged, and the difference in capabilities of small and large companies may see some useful ingredients being lost.
According to the trade association, ingredients are generally defended by the efforts of the largest companies in the cosmetics industry due to the time, cost, effort and technical expertise required to do so.
Due to competition law, national trade associations can only get involved if the ingredients in question are used widely by its members.
Therefore, small companies are sometimes unable to defend their ingredients if they come under question due to the expense and the aforementioned constraints.
This means that these ingredients, that often give the companies a point of difference, can be lost, not because they are unsafe, but because they are not defended.
It is down to this, that CTPA highlight the importance of only calling a product to question if there is solid scientific data suggesting a product is unsafe.
Under the spotlight
Parabens are one of the ingredients that have been called into question recently even though most in the industry believe them to be safe and effective.
The SCCS drafted an opinion on parabens in 2010 but were requested to produce further clarification regarding the use of parabens in cosmetics due to some highlighted cases.
One of these requests was from the Danish authorities to ban propyl and butyl parabens in cosmetics for children under three, citing them as unsafe. Discussions on this are still ongoing, but CTPA comments that it thinks the ingredients will be deemed safe.
The French agency Afssaps has also been very busy in the last couple of years performing its own risk assessments for a number of cosmetic ingredients.
This has led to reports on benzophenone-3, aluminium and nano-form titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, as well as a decision to ban 3-benzylidene camphor in cosmetic products in France.