Safety Assessor Perspective: What Is the current EU Legal Environment for Cosmetics?

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Safety Assessor Perspective: What Is the current EU Legal Environment for Cosmetics?
At our first Cosmetics Design Summit held between 24th-25th June, Patrick Gonry, Safety Assessor at S&C Consultancy, explained the legal considerations facing cosmetics companies today in the skin microbiome space. In this first article, we will be looking at the current legislative landscape in Europe.

Describing European legislation as “one of the clearest legislations in the world”​, we have put together Patrick Gonry’s need to know information on how to navigate the European cosmetics space.

Open to Interpretation and adaptations

As all laws are open to interpretation, brands may be concerned that they are not in compliance with the legislation. “Yet this uncertainty defines the future of your brand,” ​Patrick Gonry, Safety Assessor at S&C Consultancy relays, because if an inspector visits and challenges the compliance of your product/s, and it is not in compliance, “then you have to withdraw the product from the market”​.

The legal text itself will never change, but what changes is the adaptation. For example, new information relating to the free health claim in cosmetics enters the legislative environment on 1st July 2019. We also have a current adaptation for hypo-allergic claims, for instance.

Proof is key

Patrick outlines that once you become successful, competitors will scrutinise all your claims.

Therefore, it is vital that brands are prepared, that they have a strategy and they have proof that their formulated products are compliant with European legislation.

Legal clarity

The 2009 EC market regulation on cosmetics communicates:

  • Clear definitions
  • Clear responsibilities of all the stakeholders
  • Clear information on what is a safe product, how you have to prove that, how you have to label your product in Europe
  • How to handle claims

Currently, there are guidelines relating to claims, but no laws. These say that everything you say has to be true, and has to be proven. You cannot assume anything. It also has to be honest and fair in terms of the ingredient choices you select and is also fair to your competitors. The legislation says you are not allowed to seduce the customer in how you communicate claims.

Product lists

Current legislation does have product lists that specify if you have one of these specific products on the list in your product, then it is not a cosmetic. The industry also has lists of restricted products, which are both restricted in concentration and restricted in application, along with a list of preservatives, colourings, and UV filters.

Legislative information on animal testing is also less clear. In addition, there is no clear legislation relating to sun protection, hydration and anti-pollution.

Product Approval

The only person who will approve your product is the safety assessor, not an authority. A safety assessor  is a person of the cosmetics community who will assess your product. A product information file with all safety information relating to the product will be collected.

Information included in this file relates to impurities like heavy metals and/or solubles. The document is also available to a possible inspector. The safety inspector is not allowed to assess the ingredients of the annexes. While the safety assessor cannot be liable, the assessor has to follow the law.

The safety assessor has to consider the other ingredients that are not on the list. However Patrick states that a positive list that outlines what ingredients you can use, not what you want, is currently missing. Ultimately, the approach to legislative compliance must be taken on a case by case basis.

In future articles, we will be exploring the skin microbiome legislative space in Europe.  

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