EU Cosmetic Regulations
Sunscreens will have less Homosalate

Homosalate is not one of the better known sun protection ingredients. It’s not something that marketeers shout about.But it is used pretty widely, and you’ll see it on ingredient lists if you look for it.

It’s been around quite awhile. It’s one of the first on the list of approved sunscreens in the EU regulations. Formulaters know it pretty well and find it to be quite effective, and very greasy. That latter is sometimes an advantage. But usually it’s greasiness is something that doesn’t do much to enhance the skin feel of the product.

To be honest its big appeal to formulators is that it’s cheap rather than anything else about it. Its maximum permitted use level is 10%, and that’s about as much as you want to use generally anyway.

Homosalate is basically 1950s technology. We can do better today with sunscreens that are have wider protection, nicer to use and probably safer. Homosalate was developed when safety standards weren’t as high as they are now. There doesn’t seem to be too much wrong with it, but it is always worth keeping these kind of things under review. And that’s just what the EU’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, the SCCS, has done. They’ve compiled a thorough report going into great detail about the data that is available on this material. They’ve run the numbers and have concluded that it’s not quite up to scratch by modern standards.

The report has been published and so the general public can see their working. They’ve concluded that the maximum use level needs to reduced from 10% to 0.5%.

We are now waiting to see when this recommendation will be put into action. It is almost always the case that the European Commission follows the advice given to them by the SCCS. So we are basically just waiting for the implementation date.

I think the way the SCCS works is quite a good system both for ensuring the safety of products, and for making sure that safety continually improves. The review is done by people who don’t have any vested interest in the commercial aspects of the decision they’re making. You can assess both the data they have used and the reasoning they’ve applied. And they put their name to it. It’s all very transparent. And it’s also very predictable. If you keep an eye on the reports as they come out, you can get a pretty good idea of how the regulations are going to look in the future.

This allows you to plan accordingly. And the transparency has further advantages. Reading the reports of how they’ve handled the issues with this material is very informative as to how other materials might be as well. You get to understand the thinking as well as a prediction of what the rules will be. This helps you keep the right side of the regulations without even reading them.

In this case it is interesting to note that one of the issues sometimes raised against sunscreens has not in fact proved to be a problem. When materials like this started going into mass markets in the 1950s, it was speculated that they might have endocrine disrupting properties.

This was a very plausible objection. Endocrine disruption can have a very big impact from a very low level of material. Homosalate has shown some potential to disrupt endocrine systems in laboratory experiments. However, even 70 years later no evidence has emerged of this happening in real life. You can never prove a negative. Diligence is always required it comes to safety. But the fact is a potential problem is not a actual problem, and if you can’t find something the simplest explanation is that it’s not there.

I recommend anybody In the beauty business should keep an eye on the SCCS reports as they come out. At Colin’s Cosmetic Consultancy we certainly do – both out of general interest, and to watch for things that might affect our clients.

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1 Comment

  1. […] EU have started the process of banning some nano materials. (See my post on homosalate for how the EU system works.). There’s no need to panic, this is just the first stage in a process that will be likely to […]

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