Cosmetics can be divided into the following product groups:
The average Dutch person uses around five cosmetic products every day, for example soap, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving foam, hair gel and make-up. However, this is just an average. There are people who use less or more.
There is limited information about that yet. It’s not usually the products which cause problems, but certain ingredients contained in them. Preservatives and aromatic substances, for example, often seem to cause irritation. In order to get a better picture of the number and type of problems, a website in The Netherlands has been launched where consumers can report problems: www.cosmeticaklachten.nl
In Europe, manufacturers are obliged to list on the label which ingredients (components) have been used in the cosmetic products concerned. The shelf life of the unopened product is also given. If the unopened product has a shelf life of more than 30 months, its shelf life after opening is shown by the symbol:
Inside or following the symbol, the number of months that the product can be kept after opening is shown, for example 12M. There are also other ways of indicating shelf life, such as ‘best before … ’ or an expiry date with a month/year (exp.).
The label also provides more details, such as:
Many manufacturers choose to have their cosmetic products tested by dermatologists who use volunteers. There is no legal basis regarding the quality of the tests or about the size of the group of volunteers. 'Dermatologically tested’ therefore only means that a test has taken place. It says nothing about the effect the product has. The term is not legally protected and may be used for commercial reasons.
The term ‘hypoallergenic’ indicates that the risk of allergic reactions is small. The manufacturer decides whether this term is shown on the label. Often ingredients are used in the cosmetic product concerned that are deemed to have a minimal risk of allergic reactions. The manufacturer therefore assumes in all reasonableness that such reactions will not occur. However, there are no guarantees!A ‘hypoallergenic’ product can also produce allergic reactions in someone who is susceptible. The term ‘hypoallergenic’ is not legally protected and may be used for commercial purposes.
‘A natural product’ or ‘natural ingredients’ means that a substantial part of the product components have a natural origin. This does not mean that the product is therefore better or safer than products not described in this way. Natural ingredients in cosmetic products can also cause irritation or allergic reactions.
No. Products described as ‘dermatologically tested’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ often contain fewer or no ingredients that could cause sensitive reactions. These products may cause oversensitivity less often, but there are no guarantees. Some people are very sensitive to certain substances, or build up sensitivity over time.
Cosmetics cannot be kept forever. A product’s shelf life is shown on the label. This may be a symbol (the pot with open lid symbol), with the number of months (M) indicating how long the product can be kept after opening. Shelf life can also be indicated by ‘use-by….’ or an expiry date with a month/year (exp). It is not recommended that the cosmetic product be used after the date shown, as it may no longer work, may look different or have a strange smell, or perhaps no longer be safe.
Many types of problem may occur. The most common reactions are skin reactions, such as itching, redness, irritation, burning sensation, roughness, blemishes and flakiness. There may also be bumps, blisters, swelling, spots, burns, less pigment (skin becomes lighter) or more pigment (the skin becomes darker). Other, less frequent reactions are: hair loss, watery eyes, nausea, dizziness, lack of air, or breathing problems.
If the problems occur immediately after using a cosmetic product, there is a good chance that they have been caused by the product used. If the problems occur in a different part of the body or later, then it is more difficult to say whether this is due to the product. If the problems are serious, it is important to consult a doctor. A dermatologist may be able to test for certain allergies.
It is important to know what ingredients cause the allergy and then to choose cosmetic products that do not contain those ingredients. The label provides the relevant information. If you don’t know which ingredients you are sensitive to, in The Netherlands you can be tested by a doctor or dermatologist. Once it has been established which ingredients cause a reaction, you can request an allergy card via the dermatologist from the Netherlands Cosmetic Association (NCV). This lists the ingredients to which you are sensitive. You can take this card to the shop and check which products do not contain these ingredients.
All cosmetic products sold on the European market must comply with the Commodities Act. This Act obliges manufacturers of cosmetic products to carry out a safety assessment. The national Food and Drugs Authorities (in The Netherlands the VWA) ensures that products on the European market comply with the legal requirements.
The law prescribes that every manufacturer in Europe must carry out a safety assessment for each cosmetic product. This involves checking the safety of each ingredient (component) of a cosmetic product and exposure to these ingredients (the extent to which the user comes into contact with them). That depends on how much we apply, how often, where we apply it and how long the product stays on. The more we apply and the longer it stays on, the greater the exposure. In the safety assessment, the manufacturer assumes an ‘expected use pattern’, i.e. how much someone will apply in normal use. It is therefore important to check the label for what ‘normal use’ is. Cosmetic products cannot be kept forever, just like food. On the label, the manufacturer indicates the use-by date. After this date, the cosmetic product may not look good, may have a strange smell or no longer be safe. All cosmetic products on the Dutch market must comply with the Commodities Act. Manufacturers of cosmetics are obliged to perform a safety assessment. In The Netherlands the national Food and Drugs Authority (VWA) monitors for example that all products on the Dutch market comply with the legal requirements.
The requirements with which cosmetic products and ingredients (components) in cosmetics must comply are legally set down in the European Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC) and included in the Dutch Commodities Act (Cosmetic Products, Additional Regulations and Confidentiality Regulations for cosmetic products). These regulations impose requirements on the ingredients of cosmetics. For example, no ingredients that could be carcinogenic may be used in cosmetics.
No. It is prohibited to test cosmetic products on animals in the Netherlands or anywhere in Europe.Consumer products must be safe according to the law. Only once they have been proved safe may ingredients be used in consumer products. The effect of cosmetics, for example the colour of a lipstick, is not tested on animals but on human volunteers.
Claims that cosmetic products are ‘not tested on animals’ are often meaningless. Firstly, cosmetics are not tested animals. This applies to every cosmetic end product. Secondly, all ingredients in consumer products were once, sometimes very long ago, tested to determine their safety. In its guidelines 2006/406/EC (L158/18), the European Commission explained the use of the claim ‘not tested on animals’. The interpretation of the conditions is so varied that it is virtually impossible for cosmetic manufacturers to make the claim. This is because no distinction is made about who carried out the animal tests or when. The ingredients used can also not have been tested on animals either. Here too, the cosmetic manufacturer must take into account tests carried out by their suppliers and others in the chain. Since 11 March 2009, cosmetic ingredients can no longer be tested on animals in Europe. Furthermore, cosmetics regulations ban the sale of cosmetics on the European market containing ingredients that have been tested on animals.
Certain substances in perfume can cause oversensitivity on exposure to sunlight. It is therefore not advisable to wear perfume in the sun.
All substances consist of molecules. This means that all substances are ‘chemical substances’. Ultimately, everything consists of chemicals, even our body and our environment. There is no life without chemicals. The ingredients contained in cosmetics may be synthetic or natural in origin. In short, synthetic ingredients are substances that have been made by man. Natural ingredients come from nature. But the distinction between the two is not clear-cut. Natural ingredients are often processed before they are used in cosmetics. Natural surface active agents, for example, are created from the saponification of vegetable oils. In the production of synthetic ingredients, besides petroleum, ingredients from nature may also be used. For instance, natural fatty acids are used to produce synthetic surface active agents. The choice between these two types of ingredients depends on many factors like characteristics, costs as well as product philosophy. It is not the case that one type of ingredient is intrinsically better than the other. For example, lactic acid produced by the lactic acid bacteria (natural) is indistinguishable from the lactic acid from the factory (synthetic).
After use, most skincare products end up via wastewater in the sewage treatment plants, where they are largely removed. When choosing ingredients, manufacturers take into account how easy they are to remove from sewage treatment plants. Some substances are less easy to remove and end up in the surface water. The cosmetic industry strives to minimise this and to ensure that this does not create environmental problems.
Cosmetic products do not harm the environment. In general, there are no special instructions for dealing with remnants in packaging. The same applies to aerosols. It is preferable to separate packaging for collection, so: glass in the bottle bank and cardboard packaging with old paper. Plastic waste is best separated too. Seethe website of your municipality for more information. For example: wet wipes should be deposited with household waste and not flushed down the toilet.
This symbol is found on paper and cardboard that can be recycled. Packaging with this symbol can be collected with other paper.
Sometimes the symbol on the right can be found on cosmetic packaging. This shows what type of plastic a packaging is made of. The symbol consists of three arrows in a triangle containing a number. The number indicates the type of plastic. The symbol for LDPE (low-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic made of oil) is number 4.
Finally, it is advisable to use up the products completely, so that packaging can be collected empty.collected empty.
Yes. In 2007, the new regulation REACh (1907-2006-EC) came into force. REACh stands for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. One of the bases for this legislation is that, from now on, all companies must guarantee safe use of chemicals, minimising risks for man and the environment in the production, import or use of the chemicals. In order to achieve this, all chemicals must be registered. During this registration, the impact of the substance on man and the environment is studied in detail as well as exposure to the substances.
A cosmetic product is composed of different ingredients. Often years of research precede its development. During the development, besides the specific action of the product, safety for man and the environment also has priority for the manufacturer.
With regard to the environment, the cosmetic industry is working on the following points:
The cosmetic industry has been trying to reduce the impact on the environment for some time by reducing the amount of packaging material. The industry has signed up to the Packaging Covenant in which the following is established: the amount of packaging material must be reduced and all material used must be as environmentally friendly as possible. In January 2006, the Packaging Covenant was replaced by the Packaging Decree and the Packaging Tax. Measures taken to reduce the environmental impact include the use of thinner bottles, thinner cardboard and a paper or cardboard blister instead of plastic. Furthermore, the amount of economy and refill packaging is also increasing.
Some cosmetic products contain plant-based ingredients. Instead of petroleum, a plant-based material is then used. The advantage is that this material never becomes depleted. However, it is not always known whether the cultivation of that plant-based ingredient is less harmful to the environment or how the material is further industrially processed. It is therefore difficult to say whether plant-based ingredients are better for the environment (Milieucentraal). In the Netherlands there are no special laws or regulations for natural cosmetics.
In Europe, two important organisations have drawn up guidelines for natural cosmetics: BDIH and ECOCERT.
The Federation of German Industry and Trading Firms for drugs, health foods, dietary supplements and personal care products (BDIH) has drawn up a guideline clarifying the term natural cosmetics for the user. In 1996, the BDIH developed guidelines for controlled natural cosmetics. Only a few cosmetic manufacturers in the Netherlands have this labelECOCERT
ECOCERT is a French certification organisation focussing on ecological and organic production of food, cosmetics and clothes. It has drawn up guidelines for cosmetics that promote the use of natural ingredients with a high ecological quality. Products with the above-mentioned approval incorporate natural ingredients like vegetable oils, fats and waxes, herb extracts or ethereal oils and aromas from controlled organic farms or wildlife in accordance with the guideline. The following points are important:
At European level, there is the Ecolabel. With the Ecolabel, the European Commission strives to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly products. The criteria are all aimed at:
Corporate Social Responsibility receives optimum attention within our company. We are critical of return flows and packaging materials.