Endocrine Substances in Cosmetics

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Changed on: 21.11.2016

Are endocrine disruptors used in cosmetics?

Are endocrine disruptors used in cosmetics?

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Hygiene and beauty, put the moisturizer in hand
Handcreme

Cosmetic products (such as sunscreen lotions, shower gels, perfumes) are also suspected of containing hormonally active substances: e.g. UV filters in sunscreen lotion (Benzophenones and Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate), preservatives in lotions (Parabens), hair colouring products (Resorcinol), conditioners (Cyclotetrasiloxane) or denaturants in alcohol (Diethyl phthalate).

How is the safety of cosmetics ensured? Are they subject to authorisation?

How is the safety of cosmetics ensured? Are they subject to authorisation?

All cosmetic products must be safe to use. The manufacturer must prove that its cosmetic product is harmless to human health as part of a safety report.

There is no general authorisation for cosmetic products in the EU. However, certain ingredients, such as preservatives, colorants and UV filters must be authorised. The authorisation process for such substances is regulated at European levels. The basis for authorisation is a risk assessment carried out by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS). Any authorised substances are included in a positive list. This list may also contain application restrictions, such as maximum concentration levels.

The SCCS also assesses and evaluates substances that have already been approved if there are new scientific findings (re-evaluations). Limits, bans and other restrictions may be defined for substances, based on such scientific evaluations.

 

 

How is the safety of cosmetics ensured? Are they subject to authorisation? What new restrictions are there for endocrine disruptors?

How is the safety of cosmetics ensured? Are they subject to authorisation? What new restrictions are there for endocrine disruptors?

Parabens are important preservatives in cosmetic products. They are considered effective and are tolerated by the skin. Studies including animal tests showed that some parabens can affect the hormonal system.

Thus, the European Commission has regulated the use of certain parabens, based on scientific assessments provided by the SCCS:

  1. Methyl and Ethyl parabens are considered safe: their safe use in cosmetic products has been reconfirmed based on new data. 
  2. Benzyl paraben, Phenyl paraben, Pentyl paraben, Isobutyl paraben and Isopropyl paraben: their use has been prohibited because of insufficient data. Products containing these preservatives have not been made available to the market since 30.07.2015 (in line with Regulation 358/2014).
  3. Propyl and Butyl paraben: the concentration for application was reduced and their use in products for children under 3 years of age in the nappy area was prohibited (in line with Regulation 1004/2014).

Scientific Evaluations on Parabens by the SCCS

Commentary BfR on Parabens

What will be the next regulatory steps for cosmetic ingredients with respect to their hormonal activity?

What will be the next regulatory steps for cosmetic ingredients with respect to their hormonal activity?

Endocrine disruptors will be regulated specifically in various legal fields in the European Union. However, there has been no decision which scientific basis will be used to identify and characterise such substances. Thus, the EU Commission was assigned to develop concrete and transparent criteria to determine the properties of a substance that have an adverse effect on the endocrine system by the European legislature.

Once accepted criteria for the detection of substances with hormonally active properties are available, the Commission will review the Cosmetics Regulation with regards to substances with hormonally active properties.

Read more at "AGES’s contribution to an EU-wide, public consultation on the legal definition of endocrine disruptors".

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