If you sell a self tanning product you will likely be aware of a looming change to the limit of dihydroxyacetone (DHA) in self tanning products to a maximum of 10% which is going to affect a large number of products on the market. The new regulation also sets a new DHA limit for non-oxidative hair-dye products to 6.5%, which while not unimportant will probably affect far fewer skus.

The implementation dates have now been confirmed relevant to both manufacturers and retailers. The new rules mean that goods that aren’t compliant can’t be placed on the market after 26 January 2022.  So that means you can’t place them on the shelf after that date, nor create a new website listing.   You can’t sell them at all after 22 April 2022. 

This has been anticipated since October 2019 when the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) first adopted a preliminary opinion that  a maximum of 10% DHA in self tanning products was the safe level. There was no comment from the industry to the contrary, so the SCCS issued their final opinion in March 2020.  It is therefore safe to say that the new level’s safety represents the consensus.

This is only applicable in the EU and Northern Ireland. The UK will not automatically implement the legislative amendment into UK Cosmetic Regulation without an independent assessment of DHA, which is to be conducted by the UK Government. 

This means that self-tan products with existing DHA levels can continue to be sold in the UK with no end date yet announced. This will be the first run through of the new regulatory regime in the UK so we don’t have any previous experience to go by.  It seems most likely that the UK will simply replicate the EU regulation on the UK statute book and that this will be done to a similar timescale.

The reaction of retailers is more predictable.  They will want to get compliant material as soon as they can, and won’t want to use up any more of the 3 months leeway for running down their stock than they have to.  This includes UK based retailers – we’ve already heard of them indicating immediately that they won’t accept any more deliveries of skus that they might need to scrap.

The reaction of consumers is equally predictable.  Tanning products are ones where the consumer knows exactly what effect they are looking for, and if the strength of the product is reduced then they are going to notice.  Expect complaints.  

DHA remains the most popular way of creating a tan-like appearance on skin in absence of sun exposure, and formulators don’t have any easy replacement for it.   

Erythrulose does reproduce some of the tanning effect of DHA.  It works less well and costs more, so is not a great solution. If it is incorporated into a 10% DHA its extra tanning effect will not be especially noticeable.  Its impact on the COGS will be.  There are some other enhancements that might mitigate things a bit.  Penetration enhancers might help.  Modifying the rheology of the product so it stays on the skin longer might be appropriate for some products.

If you’d like to see if our lab or regulatory services can help, please get in touch.

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