Formulating for skin safety
I’ll be the first to admit that this might not be the most inspiring blog!
But at the same time it’s one of the most important areas of product development for me (LifeJacket’s lead technical nerd).
So, I think it definitely warrants a journal entry to explain how products like ours are regulated and how safety is at the heart of our high performance mantra.
Cosmetic regulation – as sexy as it sounds?
In the EU, the manufacture and supply of cosmetics is governed by the EU Cosmetics Regulations (specifically, No. 1223/2009).
This piece of legislation ensures that every cosmetic product must comply with a number of regulations, if sold within the European market. In the UK, this specific regulation replaced a local equivalent in 2013.
Post Brexit, we’re waiting to see how this regulation will be applied to products sold into the UK market but it’s pretty likely the regulation will remain or stay completely aligned as it does in many other parts of the world.
What does the regulation cover?
In a word – safety.
The regulation is designed to protect you, the consumer, and make brand owners responsible for the safety of their products for their intended use.
It standardises the technical information product labels must contain so certain safety aspects are clear and available to the consumer. It also makes sure the brand owner is accountable for ensuring a complete record of the product’s ingredients and suitability for purpose is maintained with any “adverse” information reported by consumers being evaluated and added to the record.
A help, not a hindrance, for formulators like us.
For formulators like us, the regulation gives us a fantastic framework for developing new, high performance cosmetic products.
It enables us to work within defined safety limits with all of our ingredients so that we can deliver the best possible performance while ensuring we comply with the tightest safety regulations in the world.
For example, some ingredients are designed to be used at low doses in formulations so they can deliver performance without compromising skin safety (such as irritation). The regulation ensures an ingredient’s usage is kept within defined and proven safety parameters and specialised third-party safety assessors look through our formulations in detail to “pass” them as compliant within the regulation.
For the consumer this all means that every product available to buy on the shelf or online, is deemed to be safe (or should be).
Why do some ingredients get a bad name then?
Like with all sciences, chemistry is continually evolving and more and more knowledge is generated every day concerning physical and biological processes and how cosmetic ingredients interact with our bodies.
In combination with consumer feedback, a number of laboratories and researchers are tasked with the continual process of feeding that knowledge through to the regulatory authorities so that ingredient specific safety information is updated based on the available evidence. Finished products containing affected ingredients are re-assessed and updated. If a cosmetic product falls foul of the updated regulation, it will be removed from sale. The process of safety assessment is therefore ongoing for as long as a product is on the shelf.
Of course everyone has the right to both an opinion and to choice and there are some ingredients that consumers decide to avoid.
Whilst a product may be defined as safe, one person may choose not to buy a shower gel containing sodium laureth sulphate because it caused them skin irritation, for example. Equally, some consumers may read negative press concerning paraben preservatives and choose not to buy cosmetics that contain them. That’s all completely fair enough. But it’s worth emphasising that ingredients are assessed by the regulatory authorities based on available evidence. Ingredients’ safety profiles are updated accordingly. In turn, the usage of all ingredients in cosmetic products being sold must align to updated parameters to maintain the following basic principle;
If being sold legitimately within the European Union, the product and its component ingredients as formulated are deemed safe for the intended use.
At the heart of LifeJacket’s high performance mantra.
At LifeJacket, we see product safety as a key part of performance.
It goes without saying we comply with the regulations but we also proactively stay on top of the latest safety developments concerning the ingredients we formulate with.
We make skin compatibility the first box we tick.
Furthermore, by testing our products on all skin types including sensitive skin, we always look to push our product assessment above and beyond the regulatory requirements.