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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Cosmetic products – specific topics

Consumers of cosmetic and personal care products are protected by safety requirements described in cosmetics legislation. At the same time, manufacturers should use science and latest available research data to prove the safety of a cosmetic product before it is placed on the market. Some cosmetic products deserve special attention from regulators due to their scientific complexity or higher potential risk to consumer health.

Endocrine disruptors (ED) are chemicals that may interfere with the hormonal system and, as a result of that, produce harmful effects in both humans and wildlife. A wide range of chemicals, both natural and man-made, may cause endocrine disruption.

Due to safety concerns related to using hair dye products, the European Commission put in place an overall safety assessment strategy for hair dye substances.

The efficacy of sunscreen products and the basis on which that efficacy is claimed are important public health issues. All UV filters used in cosmetic products placed on the EU market have to be assessed by the scientific committee for consumer safety and authorised by the Commission.

In cosmetic products, reference to 'nanotechnology' usually means the use of insoluble nanoparticles as ingredients. EU legislation provides a high level of protection of human health where nanomaterials are used in cosmetic products.

Cosmetics legislation also contains provisions on using carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction substances (CMR substances) in cosmetic products. In general, the use of CMR substances is prohibited, except for in exceptional cases.

Differences in regulatory frameworks can be particularly significant for 'borderline products'. The term 'borderline products' refers to products that may be difficult to classify into a product category, either in the same country or in different countries.

The availability of a wide and safe range of preservatives is one of the key challenges to the cosmetics sector. Preservatives are ingredients/substances that have the ability to prevent or decrease microbial growth in a cosmetic, protecting them from contamination of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, and prolonging the shelf-life of cosmetic products. Preservatives must undergo rigorous evaluation, including safety assessments and quality testing, to ensure that they are safe for use.

Informative documents