Exclusive interview

Can limited ingredients and a lack of fact-based regulation threaten the beauty industry?

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Can limited ingredients and a lack of fact-based regulation threaten the beauty industry?
One industry leader has suggested that the major challenges facing the industry are the reduced palette of ingredients available to formulators, and the move away from fact-based policy making in regulations.

John Chave, Director-General of the Cosmetics Europe​​ industry association - representing the interests of the whole European market - spoke to CosmeticsDesign at the organisation’s recent Annual Conference.

In this interview, Chave discusses global regulatory alignment, threats from an unstable international political landscape, sustainability, and more.

Instability is a concern for any trading industry. What we want is a stable, growing world - we want a rule-based trade order​​,” he says.

This is part one of our conversation. Discover part two​​ and three​​.

What are the main challenges facing the beauty and personal care industry today? ​​

Challenge one: limited ingredients​​

There are two principle challenges that we face. The first is to maintain as wide a palette of ingredients as we possibly can.

As many people in the industry are aware, for various reasons over the years, the range of ingredients available to us has reduced. For example, some of the classes of ingredients, in particular preservatives, have come under pressure.

Without a wide palette of ingredients, we can’t innovate to the same extent as what we would like to do, so I think everybody in the industry accepts that this is a primary challenge.

This is something that we have to proactively address, and for that reason Cosmetics Europe has decided to look at the issue of preservatives: look at the preservatives we have and consider whether the regulations we currently have around preservatives are fit for purpose these days.

Challenge two: fact-based regulation​​

The second challenge and linked to that is scientific and evidence-based policy making.

As everybody is aware, our regulation is a risk-based regulation, but recently from various stakeholders we’ve seen some move towards a hazard-based approach, taking out the exposure element, and this I think is a threat to our industry.

We have a very sound evidence-based approach which has stood the test of time for our industry, but we find increasingly in our industry that there is more emotion around these issues and less recourse to evidence than there was in the past.

But risk-based approaches, evidence-based approaches are the lynchpin in the regulation for us, and we have to find ways to defend that overall philosophy.

Global focus?​​

With the issue of the range of ingredients we have available, I think it is a global concern.

What happens in Europe is in many ways a global issue, because many countries look to Europe - because of our sophisticated regulation, which is rather more sophisticated than anywhere else in the world - they look to Europe for leadership on these issues.

And it’s not uncommon, for example, for countries outside of Europe to look at what has been happening with our positive and negative lists of ingredients, and to take inspiration from that, to ask questions based on that, and to sometimes even copy that.

So I think it is fair to say that what happens here, in Europe, has global ramifications.

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