HomeScience of cosmetics

Cosmetic products are safe. The formulation of cosmetic products is carried out by highly qualified scientists from many different specialist fields. Safety is built in to every stage of development. To put just one new product on the shelves can take several years, with many teams of scientists working on it. Then, before it is placed on the market, each product must be subject to a rigorous safety assessment performed by a qualified professional.

There is a high degree of co-operation between the industry and the regulatory authorities both in the UK and at European level to ensure that you the consumer are properly protected through legislative controls.

In spite of this, there are still many false allegations levelled against cosmetics manufacturers, accusing them of selling unsafe products and using harmful ingredients. These allegations are just that, false. They can be a way to persuade you to buy another range of products, rather than necessarily acting in the interests of your health.

Unlike rumours or scare stories, the information here can be verified by scientific proof or with independent authorities. Responsible manufacturers invest their reputation in their brands, building trust with loyal customers and relying on customer satisfaction for their success. Such companies are not going to jeopardise that by selling unsafe or unsatisfactory products.

Often the media pick up on press releases from new scientific studies. It is important that the whole paper is analysed to ensure the reporting is accurate. The cosmetics industry takes its responsibility to consumers very seriously and is keen to investigate any new scientific study or report to see what implications, if any, there are for cosmetic products. Whilst new science is of interest and academic importance, it is very important to put the science into the context of the wealth of research already available.

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A-Z of terms and ingredients

Baffled by technical terms and jargon?
Use this section to understand what it all means.

With over 100 terms and ingredients to choose from, searching through this section will give you a brilliant wealth of knowledge on the science of cosmetics!



How do baby products work?

Products intended for children under three years old must undergo a specific assessment of their suitability for this age group in addition to the normal safety assessment. That's why parents can feel confident that products they use on their children's skin and hair are safe.


How do deodorants work?

Deodorants can be used under the arm or all over the body (as bodysprays) to control body odour. Deodorants use ingredients such as alcohol and antimicrobials to kill bacteria and include fragrance to mask bad smells.


How do hair products work?

Cosmetics can have a role to play in helping people to feel good by taking care of their appearance. When it comes to hair, whether blonde, brunette, sandy or silver, changing our hair colour and style can help us express our mood and personality. Four out of every 10 women in the UK use hair colorants as part of their personal beauty regime.


How does make-up work?

We spend more than £1billion each year in the UK on make-up products; thankfully, scientific advancements mean the days of using deadly mixtures as cosmetics are long gone. In fact, thanks to sound science and strict regulation, cosmetics have never been safer.


How do nail products work?

Artificial nails (also sometimes known as "fake" or "false" nails) are artificial extensions of the natural nail and have become popular among UK consumers over recent years. There are many different types of artificial nails, but only some are classed as cosmetic products.


How do oral care products work?

Toothbrushes have been around for 5,000 years although they looked very different from those we are used to! In 3,000 BC people would chew on sticks to clean their teeth, and some people still do today in certain parts of the world, especially where water is scarce.


How do perfumes work?

Humans have the ability to distinguish over 10,000 different odour molecules - even if we can't name them all! Today, we don't just buy fragrances in perfumes or 'fine fragrances', but choose a vast array of cosmetic and toiletry products based on their scent.


How do skincare products work?

Keeping our skin healthy and well-hydrated can make us feel good as well as look good. How we treat our insides shows on our outsides, so it is important to drink enough water and maintain a sensible diet.


How do sunscreens work?

Strictly speaking, a sunscreen is anything which helps protect the skin against the harmful rays of the sun. This includes clothing, sunglasses, parasols and products formulated to be applied to the skin. We use the term sunscreen when we talk about topically applied sun protection products, or sun cream, as many of us commonly use these terms.

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