Published: 22 December 2022  (Updated: 26 January 2023)

Ending on a “Hi”: Sharing my 2022 highlights and an invitation to collaborate with CTPA in 2023

By Dr Emma Meredith, Director-General, CTPA

From conflict to political unrest, and strike action to soaring costs, it’s been another year of twists, turns and pervading uncertainty in the UK and beyond. However, as the year draws to a close I’ve been taking a moment to reflect on some of the people and projects that have brought hope to Team CTPA over the past 12 months because of the positive change they represent for our industry and for wider society.

I’ve put pen to paper (well, technically fingers to keyboard) to share some of the highlights from 2022 that will be influencing CTPA’s direction-of-travel next year. In doing so, I’d also like to share an invitation to get in touch with us if you feel similarly inspired by what we are working on and can foresee opportunities to collaborate. Do say “hi” - we’d love to hear from you.

IFSCC Congress in step with science and sustainability 

For the first time in 20 years, the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemistry (IFSCC) held its annual Congress in the UK in September, bringing together the international community of cosmetic scientists to share their latest findings and envisage the future. It was exciting to hear about cutting edge technologies that look set to support our physical and mental health in a whole host of ways. Importantly, what was particularly inspiring was the focus on the  planet’s health too, with sustainable innovation really at the fore this year. Jonathon Porritt’s excellent keynote on keeping science and sustainability in step was a personal high-point - I look forward to hearing much more from Jonathon at CTPA’s next Sustainability Summit. Look out for the date!

Growing evidence for the essential nature of our products 

My next highlight isn’t a single moment in time but an inspiring ‘red thread’ that has run throughout 2022: that cosmetics and personal care products play an essential role in our lives. This year we’ve seen a growing body of independent evidence to support this theory, starting with Opinium’s independent consumer survey for CTPA back in the Spring. This polled 2,000+ UK consumers and found that more than eight out of 10 say our industry’s products help to boost their self-esteem. You can read more here.

Cosmetics Europe, the European personal care association, commissioned a similar study that polled consumers across the UK and Europe. It revealed that the average European consumer uses more than seven cosmetic or personal care products daily (my personal tally is around 18 a day!); that nearly three quarters (72%) perceive these products as important or very important to their lives; and that 70% see them as important or very important for building self-esteem.  You can read more about the findings here.

Alongside what the surveys show us, we’re increasingly seeing the link between personal care products and personal wellbeing in science data too. While attending SCS Formulate, for instance, I was fortunate to hear Dr Katerina Steventon evidence the connection between high performing skincare and self-esteem. This close connection between industry products and individual wellbeing will likely come into even closer focus next year as EU regulators work to classify chemicals by how essential they are to our lives.

Better news for business at Party Conferences 

Putting the clear challenges around this year’s UK Party Political Conference season to one side, I came away from the conversations seeing renewed energy on all sides to work with business - something which has to be seen as a highlight given our 2023 work plan. 

Though the UK has left the EU, we can all see that Brexit is far from ‘done’ and, for SMEs in particular, the not-insignificant loose ends, such as ingredient classifications, are tying their potential up in knots. CTPA can offer independent scientific and regulatory expertise to policymakers while representing the voices and interests of members who make a significant contribution to the UK economy, so it is welcome news that those policymakers’ doors are open. I look forward to CTPA playing a more proactive advisory role across 2023.

Industry shares expertise in non-animal tests - pioneering NAMs workshop

Our industry takes great pride in its commitment to replacing animal testing and to sharing its knowledge and expertise. In the late 90s, the UK completely moved away from all animal testing through a voluntary initiative, well before bans were introduced right across Europe for cosmetic products and their ingredients,  in 2004 and 2009 respectively. Over the last 25 years the EU and UK cosmetics industries have invested more than 25 million euros in Non Animal Methodologies (NAMs), making them a global leader in this field today.  

In March, CTPA took this pioneering approach a step further, convening an expert workshop on NAMs that brought together cosmetics company scientists, animal-free testing providers, NGOs, academia and UK Government regulators. A key objective of the workshop was to promote the use of NAMs as scientifically robust alternatives to animal testing for purposes beyond UK and EU Cosmetics Regulations. In particular, to comply with UK REACH. 

The event was a highlight for the team because of the sheer scale of the work being done to find non-animal solutions, the willingness to work together from all those in the room and the clear confidence from regulators that they will get there through collaboration - something myself and CTPA colleagues look forward to being a part of in the year ahead.

Lastly, did I mention our award?

Lastly, it wouldn’t be a full set of highlights without a shameless plug for CTPA’s 2022 award win. To receive an OPSS Regulatory Excellence Award for the second year running was a huge honour as it recognised and validated the Association’s risk-based, science-led approaches to safety, while promoting innovation. I was delighted that the Team’s incredible work in this regard was recognised, once again, by our regulator. 

The team can’t wait to break more new ground with award-worthy work in 2023. Although first, and in the spirit of supporting personal wellbeing, like the industry we all represent, I hope they all take a very well-deserved seasonal break.

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