In Europe, the cosmetic industry has harsh rules to follow ingredient safety and overall chemical safety. The European Union’s Cosmetics Directive and REACH help protect EU residents from exposure to toxic chemicals in consumer products.
Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC)
The Cosmetics Directive bans the use of ingredients that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction. The goal is to ensure that cosmetics and personal care products will not have adverse health effects. Many of the substances that have been banned in Europe are still in products sold in the U.S. Cosmetic companies may have different formulas for the same product. They have a safer formula that complies with the EU Cosmetics Directive for European stores and a different formula for the U.S. that contains chemicals banned in the EU.
The Cosmetics Directive bans:
1,328 Chemicals with a complete ban
184 Allowed for use with restrictions
60 Substances provisionally allowed
Some of the banned chemicals that are still commonly used in the U.S. products:
To see the entire list of regulated chemicals click here…it is long (for good reasons): http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CONSLEG:1976L0768:20080424:EN:PDF
REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances. The goal of REACH is to protect human health and the environment from toxic chemicals. REACH requires chemical manufactures and importers to provide information on safety of their chemicals. If the chemicals are dangerous to human health or the environment, they must be replaced with less toxic alternatives. The law puts the burden on the company to prove that their substances are safe before they can be used or sold. The expected benefits of REACH are to reduce the incidences of disease caused by chemicals in our environment, including cancers and reproductive disorders.
More information on REACH visit: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/reach_intro.htm
Read “REACH in Brief” here: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/reach/pdf/2007_02_reach_in_brief.pdf