Industry: consumers are not getting the right information about chemical risks in cosmetics

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Industry: consumers are not getting the right information about chemical risks in cosmetics

Related tags Cosmetics

The industry has spoken out on apps like 'Toxfox', designed to help consumers find chemicals in cosmetics, stating that the context of concentration levels and health risks is not being communicated in a fair light.

When it comes to product safety, the spotlight is frequently on the cosmetics industry, particularly around the area of formaldehyde releasers and certain parabens which has seen major personal care players receive heat from NGOs to phase-out, reduce or eliminate substances like tricoslan.

Cosmetics Design spoke with Michal Danek of Pacific Direct, a toiletry manufacturer after reporting that BUND had extended its mobile app, ToxFox, which allows users to check cosmetics for EDCs.

The app was launched by the NGO to allow consumers to gain access to what's really in formulations which will ultimately see them dictating what ingredients they do and do not want to see in their products in the future.

'NGOs and the media aren't helping'

According to Danek, it is ventures like this that aren't helping to communicate the right information on chemicals present in cosmetics and if they are a real risk to consumers. 

"Consumers are told what is safe for them by some private organization without any mandate, unknown scientific qualification and motivation, and definitely with no responsibility,​" he tells

However, BUND states the app follows an extensive study that revealed a third of the cosmetic products sold in Germany, Austria and Switzerland to contain suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals.

These substances were allegedly found as preservatives and UV-filters in the likes of sunscreens, skin care and colour cosmetics.

It is the context of these findings and how they are being presented to consumers that Danek has a problem with.

Did you know that parabens are naturally present in different kinds of fruit? Sort of natural preservatives," ​he asks this publication. "We do not hear those people screaming ‘Do not eat strawberries, or you develop cancer!'."

Danek adds that he is in no way arguing the absolute safety of all cosmetic substances, but that there is something wrong with groups influencing consumers to reject extensively tested ingredients. 

What the regulators say..

EDCs are referred to as synthetic substances that have hormonal activities that some say may interfere with either the production or the activity of hormones within the endocrine system, leading to adverse effects.

Among substances suspected to be EDCs are bisphenol A, phthalates, parabens, several synthetic UV-filters, and pesticides.

Although the use of EDCs in cosmetics like parabens, ethyl methoxycinnamate and benzophenon are currently not illegal, the EU’s policy is to allow only those ingredients that have been proven safe.

Indeed, most up to date research continues to conclude that paraben preserving agents used widely in cosmetics pose no threat to human health.

However the 'paraben-free' bug has well and truly bitten, and with consumers increasingly keen for these claims, from formulation to packaging, manufacturers are now fully exploiting the trend.

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