Knowledge Corner: Regulation within the Personal Care industry

In this month’s Knowledge Corner, we’re doing a Q&A with our Technical Innovations Chemist, Claire Garvey, who is shedding light on the importance of certification and accreditation in the personal care industry – and how it impacts NPD and the marketing claims made to consumers.

Knowledge Corner: Regulation within the Personal Care industry

What is Certification and Accreditation?

Certification and Accreditation are written assurances from an independent third party showing that the methodology, traceability, production process and overall products that a company makes and sells, conform to the standards set out by each of the different certifying or accreditation bodies. In some cases, certification can bring opportunities for the protection of local resources and communities.

Why is Certification and Accreditation important in the Personal Care industry?

Cosmetic Regulations provide consumers with confidence in the safety of the products they are using. All products for sale to the public should have been subject to a ‘Cosmetic Product Safety Report’, which looks all aspects of the product; including the:

  • Materials used
  • Stability
  • Microbial safety
  • Packaging, and;
  • Use requirements

The regulations are ultimately looking to achieve a goal to protect human safety, by controlling the raw materials used in the products. This means that in some instances, certain raw materials will be permitted for use in some product types, but not in others, and the usage levels for some materials may be limited.

So to answer the question, “yes”, regulation is very important. Without these regulations, we would be unable to control the safety of the products we put on our bodies.

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Is there a difference between ‘Natural’ and ‘Organic’?

‘Natural’ refers to the ingredients derived from such materials as plants, minerals, vegetables or algae. ‘Organic’ refers to the process undertaken to produce the product i.e. a vegetable/plant grown without fertilisers or genetically modified ingredients, and processed without manmade chemicals. Some non-organic materials are permitted in organically certified products providing they have been assessed by the organic body.

At Stephenson Personal Care, we offer a number of certified organic products ranging from Melt and Pour, Extruded noodles, to Liquid Soap and Liquid concentrates with certifications from:

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Does the term ‘Natural’ need to be regulated in the future?

Yes. Presently, there is very little understanding of the meaning of ‘natural’, and in some cases, the word may be incorrectly used as a marketing claim on personal care products. This often happens if just one of the materials contained within a product is natural; however, this does not mean that the whole product is natural. This also happens if one supply chain is natural, yet this does not mean that all suppliers of that material are natural - because some may use synthetic processing aids.

Without regulation of this word, consumers will be relying on the pack wording of the product they purchase, as security that the product actually is natural. This can be very misleading if not all the ingredients or supply chain is ‘natural’.

In today’s challenging climate of carbon footprinting and saving the environment, Certification is a very powerful tool in building trust with consumers. For Organic products, it builds confidence that the products they buy contain materials that are organically produced and have not been subject to any unsuitable processing.

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What does the COSMOS/Soil Association merge mean for the future?

In 2002, the 5 major European organic and naturals cosmetics standard setting organisations came together to harmonise their standards. These 5 bodies are:

  • Soil Association (UK)
  • Ecocert (France)
  • BDHI (Germany)
  • ICEA (Italy)
  • COSMEBIO (France)

Between these companies, their standards are used in over 45 countries worldwide and cover approximately 85% of the certified cosmetics market.

For this reason, it was recognised that there should be a single harmonised standard to provide a level playing field for all concerned. In June 2010, the Cosmos-Standard AISBL received its royal consent from the Berlin authorities. It is currently undergoing a transition stage, but comes into full force from January 1st 2017. From 2017, it means that one certification body will be in play throughout Europe.

Globally, different regulations are deployed by different countries to protect the consumer by ensuring safe ingredients and finished products.

Does certification help to back-up marketing claims made to the consumer?

The certification seals on pack are visible aids to draw the attention of the consumer whilst shopping; ultimately drawing their attention to that product over the others on shelf. The seals show that the product has been investigated by an independent third party, hence ‘backing up’ the claims being made on-pack.

Final thoughts

The importance of cosmetic and personal care regulations is clear, but it might be useful to consider how these regulations have changed our approach to personal care innovation, and how they have made specific impact, for example on:

  • Resource allocation in R&D and regulatory support
  • Altered timelines for new product development (NPD)
  • Limiting formulation performance claims
  • Limiting ingredient selection
  • Changing the way that ingredient suppliers and formulators interact and work together

It is useful to consider the overall impact of these changes on the ultimate business success of new product launches and the marketing claims made on-pack.

About the author

Claire Garvey

Claire Garvey is a Technical Innovations Chemist for Stephenson Personal Care. She received a BSc Hons in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Huddersfield. Following graduation, she joined Robert McBride as a Development Chemist, and in 2011 joined Stephenson Personal Care as a Technical Innovations Chemist.

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