Using cosmetics

Cosmetic products: Safety First

All ingredients used in cosmetic products are subject to stringent European regulations guaranteeing consumer protection and the well-being of industry employees. Under the Cosmetics Regulation, cosmetic products are required not to cause any harm to human health. To that end, a safety assessment needs to be carried out, taking into account all the ingredients used in the product.

Product safety continues to be the primary consideration for the cosmetic industry. Figures show that only 1 unit in every 1 million units produced results in allegations over its safety - most of these allegations are minor in nature. Nevertheless, industry continues to strive for even higher safety levels for its consumers and employees.

Several thousand new or improved products are brought onto the market by the cosmetic industry each year. This commitment to innovation is essential, not only to allow the European industry to maintain its global competitiveness, but, more importantly, to improve the performance, safety and environmental impact of products.

The European cosmetic industry is a positive example of the role that scientific research and development can play in today's world. Indeed, it is science that underpins the success of the cosmetic industry to meet this challenge and it is the industry's commitment to science and consumer safety that will allow the vibrant European cosmetic industry to continue to flourish

The following tips provide a “best practice” guide to using cosmetic products.

Always read the instructions carefully and take note of any warnings for use
Use products within the life span indicated by the Period After Opening symbol or best before date
Avoid storing products in direct sunlight or near sources of heat; choose cool (not freezing) areas where possible
Never dilute products or mix them with other products unless directed by product instructions
Apply products with clean hands or an applicator that is routinely washed thoroughly with soap, detergent or a mild shampoo
Allow applicators to dry completely before use
Avoid sharing personal cosmetic products with another person
The Cosmetics Regulation, specifies a harmonised approach in Europe to labelling the useable life span of cosmetic products.
The Period after Opening (PAO) symbol is an open jar displayed on both the product container and outer packaging. It is accompanied by the life span of the product contents in months, indicated by a number followed by “M”. This can appear either on or next to the open jar symbol

A small number of cosmetic products last for 30 months or less after manufacture. These are required to display a “best before” date but do not display the PAO symbol.
Other cosmetics exempt from the PAO symbol include single use products such as samples and hair dyes, products in packs such as aerosols that have no contact with the air, and very long-lasting products that do not deteriorate over time.