Monday, 28 March 2011

What is Cosmetic Safety Assessment?

So you want to sell your hand made (Bath/Body) products? Then it's likely that you've come across the terms "Safety Assessment" "Certification" and "Cosmetic Safety Assessment". 

Sound complicated? What does it mean? Well, within the EU, the law states that before any cosmetic/toiletry product can be sold, it must be "tested" for safety by a suitably qualified individual or body (lab, company, etc) and it is this process that is referred to as Cosmetic Certification, Cosmetic Safety Assessment, Certification, Cosmetic Testing, or similar.

For the small scale producer it is not necessarily the case that the actual items you make will have to be physically tested.  If you are making Bath Bombs, M&P Soap, Lip Balms, Body Butters and similar low risk well recognised products, you are unlikely to be asked to send a sample for testing. (If you make Cold Process Soap, or Lotions with a water phase for example, then your assessment will differ)

Assessment for Cosmetics & Toiletries involves a suitably qualified cosmetic chemist or laboratory analysing your recipes, ingredients/ratios and methods.  Even if you are making relatively simple alterations to toiletry "base" products, the resulting "new" products will still need an assessment; you've altered the formulation therefore the product is now something new and requires assessment in its' own right. 

A number of conditions and rules must be satisfied before it is deemed safe to sell a cosmetic or toiletry product in the EU.  These conditions are contained  within the EC Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC) put in place in order to protect the public from harm.  Guidance from the Department of Business Inovation and Skills on the Cosmetics Regulations can be found here - and is very useful! Within that document are further links to helpful sites and we recommend that you save it for future reference. 

So how do you go about obtaining Assessment for your products?

1) Contact an individual assessor and advise them of the products you make, the ingredients and method that you use. The CTPA (Cosmetics Toiletry & Perfumery Association) will provide a list of independant assessors.

2) Purchase an assessment package to cover the type of products you wish to sell.  Packages are available that are either stand alone (ours are) - you are free to source your ingredients wherever you wish provided they conform to EU law or that tie you to buying a particular retailer's ingredients.

Manufacturing experience is needed for both options; that is to say you should already know how to make products safely, be confident with the regulations surrounding ingredient use and be able to keep accurate records whilst adhering to good manufacturing practice. 

MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and Allergen data must be available for your ingredients and those ingredients must of course be approved for use in the EU (US regulations differ, therefore ingredients sourced from the US may not comply with EU regulations and vice versa).  You will also need to familiarise yourself with EU law regarding labelling and weighing your products for sale, batch numbering and record keeping.

The consolidated EU cosmetics directive can be viewed here

Safety assessment packages can be viewed here

We hope that we've answered some of your questions but welcome your comments & questions.

Comment below or email us.

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