Cosmeceutical industry ‘disregards’ safety, according to cancer charity

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Personal care products, Care products council, Cosmetics

The cosmetics industry has a ‘reckless disregard for safety’ and should be providing safety warnings on a number of its products, according to a cancer charity.

Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, Dr Samuel Epstein, claims that ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) increase the risk of sunburn and skin cancer.

In addition, he criticizes the preservative compounds parabens as well as the fragrance ingredient limonene.

Epstein said many of these ingredients can be found in cosmeceutical products, which he claims are not regulated properly by the FDA.

“The industry markets cosmeceuticals with anecdotal or even wild claims of effectiveness, rather than scientific data, and with reckless disregard for safety​,” he said.

He called on the FDA to place black box warnings, a procedure usually reserved for prescription medications that have serious or even fatal side effects, on a number of these ingredients.

“Concering ingredients, the US public is hopelessly ignorant and they think the government should protect them,”​ Epstein told CosmeticsDesign; something which he feels the regulatory authorities are failing to do.

Glycolic and lactic acids are the two most common AHAs found in cosmetic products and are used to help soften and smooth the skin, according to cosmetics trade association Personal Care Products Council.

Safe to use

These ingredients have been deemed safe to use in cosmetics products as long as certain guidelines are followed, the Council said in a statement responding to Epstein’s claims.

Concentrations and pH limits have to be respected, and in addition manufacturers are advised by FDA to label a product with a warning about how it may increase skin sensitivity to sun exposure, and advising the consumer to use daily sun protection products.

“The highest priority of the Personal Care Products Council member companies is the safety and health of consumers who use our products. Companies are required by law to substantiate the safety of all ingredients and products before they are marketed,”​ it said.

The Council also takes issue with Epstein’s take on cosmeceuticals; a product category not recognised by FDA.

Under the FDA, products are regulated as cosmetics or drugs there are no regulatory differences between how a cosmeceutical and a cosmetic are treated.

“Therefore, any reference to a “cosmeceutical” fails to recognize the vast difference between the way cosmetics and drugs are regulated,”​ the Council said.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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