Safety Matters

Consumer Confidence and Trust

The safety of people using cosmetic and personal care products is of extreme importance to manufacturers and suppliers with companies recognising their responsibilities and often going beyond their legal obligations. Indeed, there is a high degree of co-operation between the industry and the regulatory authorities both in the UK and at European level to ensure that consumers are properly protected through legislative controls.

Haircare, skincare, toiletry, perfumery and decorative cosmetic products are all used in our daily routines to keep us clean, maintain healthy skin and teeth, to look good and smell nice. European laws that ensure the safety of these types of product call them 'cosmetics' and this is the term we use throughout this website. Cosmetics include shampoos; hair dyes; moisturisers and cleansers; anti-ageing creams; antiperspirants; sunscreens; oral hygiene products such as toothpastes; and fine fragrances and other perfumery products.

Are cosmetics safe?

Cosmetics are applied directly to skin, hair and nails so it is crucial that they are safe to use. Years of scientific research and testing goes into making each and every item in our bathroom cabinets and make-up bags. It takes whole teams of scientists to develop just one new product. All cosmetic products supplied throughout the UK must be safe. The safety laws controlling cosmetic products are extremely stringent. In the UK, the manufacture and supply of cosmetics is governed by the EU Cosmetics Regulation. Compliance is mandatory.

At the point that the UK leaves the EU, nothing will change in terms of the safety of cosmetic and personal care products. The regulation will be aligned to the same strict EU rules and importantly the animal testing bans on ingredients and products will remain firmly in place. For more information about the effects of Brexit, see our dedicated section.

In spite of this, there are still many false allegations levelled against cosmetics manufacturers, accusing them of selling unsafe products and using harmful ingredients. These allegations are just that, false. They can be a way to persuade people to buy another range of products, rather than necessarily acting in the interests of your health.

You can find out the facts about these alarmist reports on the CTPA's dedicated consumer website, www.thefactsabout.co.uk . Unlike rumours or scare stories, the information can be verified by scientific proof or with independent authorities. Responsible manufacturers invest their reputation in their brands, building trust with loyal customers and relying on customer satisfaction for their success. Such companies are not going to jeopardise that by selling unsafe or unsatisfactory products.

Often the media pick up on press releases from new scientific studies. It is important that the whole paper is analysed to ensure the reporting is accurate. The cosmetics industry takes its responsibility to consumers very seriously and is keen to investigate any new scientific study or report to see what implications, if any, there are for cosmetic products. Whilst new science is of interest and academic importance, it is very important to put the science into the context of the wealth of research already available.

Please see our Confidence in Cosmetics section for further information.

Research

In 2004 and 2005, CTPA comissioned two key research papers tackling the debate around risk and hazard. Despite the passage of time, the challenges remain in this fast-paced, social media-driven world and therefore these papers remain a thoughtful read.

Making Sense of Risk

'Making Sense of Risk' examines the debate on risk communication from an industry perspective and considers the challenge that governments, industry and people have to make sense of the daily read of what is good or bad for us and to put risk into perspective to help dispel myths and assumptions that all chemicals are dangerous to health. Everything in life is made of chemicals, including plants, our bodies and water.

Trust in Your Own Good Sense

'Risk in Perspective' builds on the points raised in 'Making Sense of Risk' and seeks to highlight that risk is more than the presence of a hazard; there has to be exposure to a hazard. Risk is the likelihood of harm occurring. Decisions and regulations made to protect consumers should be based on risk rather than hazard, a basic principle of the strict EU Cosmetics Regulation. In this paper, we explore consumers' attitudes to risk and how people, especially parents, can face the daily challenge to put risk into perspective for themselves.