You may have read reports in the media regarding a US study from the University of California-Berkeley which claims that avoiding certain cosmetics can reduce the number of chemicals in the body. The study also suggests that these chemicals can be harmful for us.
CTPA understands the worry that alarming headlines may cause and we would like to allay any concerns and reassure that you can be confident that the cosmetic products we buy are safe for use.
Cosmetics are applied directly to skin, hair and nails so it is crucial that they are safe to use. Years of scientific research and testing goes into making each and every item in our bathroom cabinets and make-up bags. It takes whole teams of scientists to develop just one new product.
Confidence in cosmetics
It is important to stress that all cosmetic and personal care products, wherever in the world they are placed on the market, must be safe. In the UK (and throughout the EU) cosmetic products are covered by strict European safety laws, whose primary purpose is to protect human safety.
We can be confident in this safety because all cosmetic products must undergo a rigorous safety assessment by an appropriately qualified scientist, before being made available for purchase. The safety assessment takes account of all the ingredients used in the product, irrespective of their source, how the product will be used, by whom and how often.
There are three layers to the safety assurance process:
European legislation requires cosmetics to be safe.
The professional Safety Assessor personally signs-off to say the cosmetic product is safe.
Products placed on the market are monitored; any adverse reactions are addressed by companies and may have to be reported to the authorities.
About the study
While the study shows that by reducing exposure to a particular substance the levels that might be found in the body or in the urine decrease, this is really to be expected and is not specific to cosmetics.
Of course our body is used to coping with things that we eat or may get absorbed by the skin, but these are readily metabolised and harmlessly excreted. The levels that we get rid of will be dependent on what we put in. However, what is really important to remember is not whether we can detect the presence of a substance in the body or urine, but whether the presence of that substance can actually cause us harm. Certainly any substances present in the body resulting from cosmetic use will not accumulate within the body to reach unsafe levels.
The study claims that the ingredients tested were chosen because they could be potential endocrine disruptors. However, nowhere does the study itself demonstrate any endocrine disrupting property or show any negative impact from exposure to the chosen chemicals. We would like to emphasise that endocrine disruptors are not used in cosmetic products. It's worth knowing that just because something has the potential to mimic a hormone it does not mean it will disrupt your endocrine system; endocrine mimics are abundant in nature and we ingest them in the food we eat in concentrations whose effect would be very many times greater than you could possibly get from cosmetic products. Scientific studies have consistently failed to establish that endocrine mimics disrupt the endocrine system in humans or animals, yet some continue to claim otherwise even though there is currently no evidence that at low levels endocrine mimics harm human health.
It is disappointing that legally allowed and safe cosmetic ingredients have been unfairly called into questions by this study.