MYTH: European Cosmetics are Safer than those Manufactured in the U.S.
EVP, Public Affairs & Communications
Personal Care Products Council
In today’s media environment, where repeated misinformation and myths can start to become ‘reality,’ it’s important to step back and more deeply examine the facts. One example is the oft-cited myth that cosmetics and personal care products are more strictly regulated in the European Union (EU) than in the United States. In fact, however, the approach to regulating cosmetics in the EU and U.S. is fundamentally the same.
Cosmetics are widely considered to be very low-risk to consumers; consequently, neither the EU nor the U.S. require regulatory approval prior to marketing. Instead, both jurisdictions require manufacturers to substantiate the safety of their products and ingredients before offering them to consumers. Both systems also authorize regulatory bodies to ban or restrict the use of certain ingredients and to require warnings and instructions for use on product labels. Independent expert scientific bodies have been established in both the EU (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety [SCCS]) and U.S. (Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel [CIR]) to review test data and provide opinions on the safety of cosmetics ingredients. Both jurisdictions also require substantiation of product claims.
One of the most commonly cited myths is that European products are safer because the EU has banned over 1,400 ingredients, while the U.S. has banned less than 20. Close examination of the EU Annex II banned list, however, reveals the vast majority of those chemicals are not, have not, and never would have been, used in cosmetics in either the U.S. or in Europe. The EU banned list includes substances such as jet aircraft fuel, pesticides, barbiturate drugs, the cancer drug Methotrexate, antibiotics, arsenic, strychnine, cyanide, rat poison, and carbon monoxide. Clearly, these are not ingredients that would ever be used in a cosmetic.
All cosmetic ingredients undergo strict scientific safety assessments using internationally recognized methodologies, whether these ingredients are used in cosmetics sold in the U.S. or the EU. Consumers can be confident of the high levels of product safety and quality on both sides of the Atlantic.
For more information, please visit www.cosmeticsinfo.org, where you can find science-based safety information about the ingredients used globally in cosmetics and personal care products.