Safety of Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

labThe highest priority of the cosmetic and personal care product industry is to ensure the health and safety of consumers through the marketing of products that are safe and effective. Cosmetics Alliance Canada and its member companies have a long history of working with various regulatory authorities to ensure consumer safety and confidence in the cosmetic and personal care product sector.

Are cosmetics and personal care products safe?

Cosmetics Alliance Canada and its members share the view that cosmetics and personal care products must be safe from both a human health and environmental perspective when used as intended.

Specifically in Canada, Health Canada regulates cosmetics and other personal care products under the Food and Drugs Act and its Cosmetic, Food and Drug, and Natural Health Product Regulations. Ingredients used in cosmetics and other personal care products are also subject to review under Canada’s world-leading Chemicals Management Plan. As such, it is illegal to sell cosmetics or other personal care products that would cause harm when used as intended.

Cosmetics and personal care products are subject to at least three levels of scrutiny as to their safety for use by consumers.

  • Ingredient suppliers have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of the substances they produce for their intended purpose.
  • Manufacturers have this same obligation to safety when blending ingredients to produce finished products.
  • Governments have created various regulatory requirements imposed by law as a further safeguard of consumer safety.

In Canada, government regulation is specifically provided by Health Canada based on the most current scientific knowledge and information. By law, cosmetics and personal care products cannot contain ingredients or quantities of ingredients that can cause injury to human health.Health Canada also maintains a list of prohibited or restricted ingredients that is updated regularly. Furthermore, the ingredients and their formulation for each cosmetic and personal care product must be filed with Health Canada by the manufacturer. This allows Health Canada to review new products and maintain a national database that can be used to contact suppliers if and when new information regarding risk should become known.

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) is also an important resource for safe use information and is used by regulators and the industry worldwide. The CIR provides an independent assessment of cosmetic and personal care product ingredients on a risk-priority basis and publishes its findings in peer-reviewed scientific literature. Based on the very latest knowledge available, manufacturers work with ingredient suppliers to ensure that the ingredients they are producing are safe.

In addition, Cosmetic Alliance Canada member companies have actively supported Health Canada’s requirements to ensure ingredient labelling on all cosmetics and personal care product packaging as well as the implementation of internationally recognized ingredient names.These initiatives help to ensure that consumers, their healthcare providers and scientists are able to correctly identify product ingredients no matter where they are manufactured.

Click here for additional information on how Health Canada regulates cosmetics and personal care products in Canada. For additional information on the ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products, please visit www.cosmeticsinfo.org. It is important to note that this website references U.S. regulations and not Canadian. However, this website is a great resource overall for specific safety information about cosmetics and personal care products, their ingredients and how they are tested.

Are natural ingredients better/safer?

There is a general assumption that “natural” products are healthier than similar ones using synthetic ingredients. Often, however, these “natural” ingredients are no different in composition than their synthetic counterparts.

In fact, a synthetic substance, which mimics a natural one, can sometimes provide a purer,more stable ingredient which gives the product a longer shelf life. Health Canada considers both natural and synthetic ingredients to be equally suitable for use in cosmetics.

Are there any ingredients that are strictly prohibited from use in cosmetics/personal care product?

Yes, Health Canada maintains a list of all ingredients that are prohibited from use in cosmetics and personal care products (Cosmetic Ingredient “Hotlist”) and this list is available on their website. Each company must file a list of all ingredients in their product with Health Canada within 10 days of first sale in the marketplace. This provides a check on new products and generates a database that Health Canada can use to contact suppliers if and when new information regarding risk should become known. Health Canada is continuously working with international regulators to ensure this list is current and up-to- date.

Where’s the best place to go for detailed product information?

We suggest you visit our member company websites. You may also wish to contact these companies directly regarding product specific concerns or questions that you may have.

Are fragrances safe?

Fine fragrances and fragrance materials, like all cosmetics and personal care products, are regulated by Health Canada under the Food & Drugs Act.

Any safety issues are addressed on an international basis by a number of organizations including the International Fragrance Association (IFRA), and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM). To access additional information on fragrances, please visit The Fragrance Foundation.

How are fragrances created?

The creation of fragrance is an excellent example of nature and science working together. Many raw materials are taken from natural sources including flowers, herbs, spices, fruits, roots and grains. The desired materials are then isolated from the plants using a combination of mechanical, distillation, extraction and evaporation techniques. These ingredients are enhanced by manufactured materials which may reproduce natural elements that cannot be obtained in large quantities or have unique properties not known to nature.

For thousands of years, fragrances have been enjoyed and have contributed to people’s individuality, self-esteem and personal hygiene. Fragrance dates as far back as the Egyptians, who used aromatic plants to create massage oils, medicines, embalming preparations, skin care products, fragrant perfumes and cosmetics.

To access additional information on fragrances, please visit The Fragrance Foundation.