We can always be confident that, when using cosmetic and personal care products, they will have been through a detailed and standardised assessment process by a fully qualified safety professional, and will be safe to use.
By law, every cosmetic, toiletry and perfumery product will include certain information on the label that will help make sure you are able to buy what you are looking for, explains how the product should be used to get the best results, and how to use it safely. One of these really important pieces of information is the ingredients list.
The ingredients list is mainly there for people who have been professionally diagnosed with an allergy, so that they can avoid the ingredients to which they are allergic. Unfortunately, some of us may be sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients in cosmetic or personal care products. Substances known to cause widespread allergic reactions are not used in cosmetics but each person is different and we might find we are allergic to substances that others use or consume without any problems. For example, many people eat peanuts and yet some cannot, and whilst pollen makes summer miserable for hay fever sufferers the majority have no such problems. Therefore, it’s really important to always check the ingredients list available on the label of every product if you know that you are sensitive or allergic to a particular ingredient.
Ingredient names must, by law, comply with UK requirements and use the ‘International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients’, known as INCI. INCI means that in whichever European country a cosmetic product is bought, the ingredient names will be the same. These INCI names have also been adopted by many countries worldwide. If you have been diagnosed with an allergy to a substance, you may have been given the substance’s chemical name or common name. CTPA has put together some tables provide the corresponding INCI name for cosmetic ingredients which are more frequently associated with allergies or sensitisation.
Where a higher risk of allergy has been identified, such as with some hair dyes, important safety instructions are provided on the outer pack and on instruction leaflets contained inside hair dye boxes. These warnings alert us to the possibility of allergic reactions and that these reactions, although rare, may be severe. The instructions emphasise an Allergy Alert Test must be carried out.
As well as the useful information included on cosmetic product labels, manufacturers are also very happy to help. Contact details will be available on the product and through brands’ websites.