France poised to set a precedent on cosmetics use while pregnant

By By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cosmetics Us

An increasing body of scientific evidence over the use of certain cosmetics while pregnant could see the French government paving the way for change.

This week French health authorities have announced that it is considering plans to introduce a specific logo that would draw attention to cosmetic products posing a potential risk if used by women during pregnancy.

The move targets specific chemicals in the paraben and phthalates families that some suggest may increase the risk of deformities in unborn babies, as well as cancers.

Based on body scientific evidence

Although individual products contain 'safe levels' of these chemicals, there is a growing body of scientific evidence to suggest that concurrent use of a number of products containing these chemicals can lead to a cumulative effect that can be toxic.

Although European authorities have already led the way in this area, specifically outlawing some of the chemicals in the phthalates family deemed to be the riskiest, if the French authorities proposals come into effect industry experts believe it could set a European precedent.

French minister of health Roselyne Bachelot has said she plans to draw more attention to the potential risks of some cosmetic products and their ingredients, with the ultimate objective of introducing a labelling scheme.

Logo for products?

“I would like to investigate, in partnership with industry, the possibility of putting a logo on products that may be reproductively toxic, indicating that they are not recommended for use by pregnant women and young children,”​ she said

France has traditionally led the way on matters relating to cosmetics safety. Indeed, two years ago it banned a line of personal care products from sale in the country because it was deemed to contain potentially toxic levels of essential oils for pregnant women.

If the move by the French authorities does lead to further discussions about the tightening of regulations in Europe, it is also likely to rekindle debate about regulation in the US.

Many industry observers beleive that the US government has largely left the personal care industry to regulate itself, a situation that means far fewer ingredients are actually banned from formulations

Phthalates family remains unregulated in the US

A strong example of this is the phthalates chemical family, which is not regulated on a nationwide basis.

The state of California is the exception to this rule, having introduced a state Bill back in 2005 that restricts the use of some phthalates, deemed to be the most toxic, together with a number of other chemicals associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Although the move by the state was expected to affect personal care formulation nationwide, there has been no significant changes to date.

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