Cosmetics legislation requires that every cosmetic product placed on the market in Europe is safe to use. The manufacturer must ensure that cosmetic products undergo an expert scientific safety assessment before they are launched for sale.
Scientific research and innovation are key drivers for the cosmetics industry. Manufacturers employ thousands of scientists to discover new more efficient cosmetic ingredients and formulations, and develop products with unique properties meeting consumer desires. It can take several years to launch a new product on the market and the manufacturer is responsible for the testing and safety evaluation.
National authorities in each EU country are in charge of reviewing the safety assessments and checking products already on the market. The testing of cosmetic products is carried out by national laboratories in accordance with the requirements set out in the analytical methods.
The European Commission is advised by scientific committees on issues related to the safety and allergenic properties of cosmetic products and ingredients.
The scientific committee on consumer safety (SCCS), which according to Commission Decision 2008/721/EC replaces the scientific committee on cosmetic products (SCCP), provides independent scientific expertise. It is administered by the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission.
The Committee provides opinions on the health and safety risks (chemical, biological, mechanical and other physical risks) of non-food consumer products (cosmetic products and their ingredients, toys, textiles, clothing, personal care, household products, etc.) and services (tattooing, artificial sun tanning, etc.).
Guidance on testing of cosmetic ingredients provides assistance in the complex process of testing and safety evaluation. The analytical methods described below refer to the testing of the composition of consumer products that are already on the market.
The SCCS’s notes of guidance for the testing of cosmetic ingredients and their safety evaluation provide guidance to public authorities and the cosmetic industry to improve harmonised compliance with Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009. The most relevant provisions of the Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on cosmetic products are briefly mentioned in the SCCS guidance document.
The 'notes of guidance' are regularly revised and updated to incorporate the progress of scientific knowledge in general, as well as the experience gained in the testing and safety evaluation of cosmetic ingredients. These 'notes of guidance' also set out the essential information required in a safety file submitted for evaluation to the SCCS.
The Cosmetics Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 provides for the official testing of cosmetic to ensure that the conditions concerning the composition of these products are satisfied.
Effective in-market control by EU countries ensures that only cosmetic products which conform to the cosmetics legislation are on the market.
Inspectors appointed at national level may visit retailers selling cosmetic products to check these products. If necessary, these inspectors may take any product from the market to official laboratories to be tested for compliance with EU regulations.
The official testing of cosmetic products carried out by laboratories of any kind (national, control, etc.) has to be done in accordance with the European official methods of analysis.