Canada bans or restricts four chemicals from cosmetics

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetics, Cosmetics ingredients

The Canadian government has banned or restricted the use of four cosmetics ingredients as they could pose a threat to human health.

The four ingredients, (2-MEA, DEGME, PGME and pigment red 3) have been added to the Cosmetics Ingredients Hotlist, which means their use is either prohibited or restricted.

Health Canada’s announcement is part of the ongoing review of over 200 chemicals using health and environmental criteria, the results of which are being published in batches by the regulatory authorities.

Mark Patton from the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association describes the decision as pre-emptive.

Not in common usage

“These chemicals are not in common usage in cosmetics products in Canada,”​ he explained, adding that by placing them on the hotlist manufacturers will be prevented from using them in the future.

The first ingredient 2-MEA (2-methoxyethanol acetate) is recorded as having uses in nail polish and as a solvent and viscosity decreasing agent in cosmetics; however, there is no current use of the ingredient in Canada. Its corresponding alcohol 2-ME is already banned.

Putting 2-MEA on the hotlist brings Canadian regulation into step with that in Europe where the chemical is not allowed in cosmetics.

According to Health Canada, the second ingredient DEGME - 2-(2-methoxyethoxy) ethanol, listed on cosmetics labels as methoxydiglycol - can be used in hairsprays, skin creams, cleansers and fragrance ingredients, but again Patton stated that there is no current recorded use of the ingredient in Canada.

Limit the impurity level

The third ingredient, 2-methoxypropanol, is not added to products but it is often present as an impurity in PGME (propylene glycol monomethyl ether). In order to reduce exposure to this chemical Health Canada has stated that PGME should not be used in cosmetics if the level of the impurity gets above 0.5 percent.

Although Patton said the trade body has not yet had a chance to discuss this in detail with its members, he doesn’t envisage producing PGME of this purity should pose any problems.

The final ingredient added to the hotlist is Pigment Red 3, which was used as a colorant in cosmetics. According to Patton, the regulators know of one company who is currently using the ingredient, but it is not a member of the Canadian cosmetics trade association.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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