UL proposes industry standards for evaluating personal care product safety

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

UL proposes industry standards for evaluating personal care product safety

Related tags Personal care Cosmetics

Wellness, sustainability, and ingredient safety rank high among consumer concerns about personal care and cosmetics products, and third-party certifications could be an effective way to mitigate their uncertainties. 

A new whitepaper published by UL Environment shares findings from the company’s latest research into not only consumer concerns but more significantly into existing safety guidelines. The study reviews standards from the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, the International Council of Chemical Associations, the International Fragrance Association, and the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association.

From there the paper goes on to call for improved best practices, based on the discrepancies among the guidelines as well as the UL exploration of the gap between consumer expectations and current protocols.

Is this necessary?
“A key message coming from consumers is confusion around ingredient safety,” ​finds UL. And that, it seems, is what the company would ultimately like to clear up.

Product benefits and environmental concerns are wrapped up in this issue too:

“research shows that three out of four consumers in North America believe that personal care products can impact their health, and 80% of consumers report they are interested in purchasing more sustainable personal care products.”

Retailers are taking on the issue of sustainability and verifiable naturals​.  “As there is no universal definition of ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ or botanical,’ brands and retailers are developing their own product guidelines and seals of excellence to capture the attention of consumers who favor such products,” ​reports Cosmetics Design. The likes of Whole Foods, Credo and numerous ecommerce sites are curating products according to their own benchmarks.

There does look to be room here for beauty business leaders and third party regulators to help lessen the distance between industry practices and consumer requirements.

What’s next?
UL suggests that a blending of industry-wide guidelines may be a good next step. “Overall, the best practices recommendations are largely consistent with the guidance provided by SCCS, followed by CIR, ICCA, RIFM, and FEMA,” ​explains the white paper (Assessing the Safety of Personal Care Products:  Comparative Analysis of Health Risk Assessment Frameworks and Recommendations for Best Practices).

The company has put together several charts illustrating where guidelines overlap, how they differ, and how these can be combined into an overall more cautious set of protocols in many areas of concern, including repeated dose toxicity, safety evaluation of nanomaterials, and reliably identifying and quantifying ingredient impurities and by-products.

Who to trust?
Beyond an adjustment of testing procedures, UL suggests that a third-party certification standard may be needed. “While a credible, transparent best practice as suggested here should address many stakeholder concerns from a technical perspective, public acceptance may remain a challenge.”

“UL believes there is a role for third parties to bridge the confidence gap and provide an effective means to validate and communicate the safety and safety practices for personal care products.” ​This from a company that is, of course, in the business of setting safety standards and issuing certifications.

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