Keeping Consumers Away From Heavy Metals

December 2016

For those of us who follow the cosmetic industry news, 2016 has continued past years’ trends of interesting new developments concerning new regulations and public safety. Now more than ever, as technologies evolve and newer ingredients hit the market each year, consumers’ safety must be at the heart of manufacturers’ priorities. A few months ago, the FDA warned consumers against using imported cosmetics and soaps that might contain mercury, which the agency doesn’t allow in cosmetic applications. The FDA took this opportunity to remind consumers of the serious health consequences that can result from mercury exposure.

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From Night Treatment to Health Hazard

Looking back in time, it is interesting to note that women living in Victorian England might have had a different take on this issue. During this era, arsenic or lead were common solutions for achieving a pale, near-death complexion, and mercury was recommended by some as a nightly under eye treatment.

Mercury and arsenic are part of the family of chemicals called heavy metals. Heavy metals are individual metals and metal compounds that can impact human health. In addition to mercury; lead, cadmium, antimony, and arsenic are among the other toxic compounds that can have dire effects on consumers’ health. These are all naturally occurring substances that are often present in the environment at low levels but, in larger amounts, can be very dangerous. Generally, humans are exposed to these metals by ingestion (drinking or eating) or inhalation (breathing).

Only fairly recently have governments taken actions to protect consumers from exposure to these chemicals. While there are currently no international standards for impurities in cosmetics, many countries have imposed drastic limits for heavy metal content in most cosmetic ingredients.

In the US, the FDA has established strict limitations on three heavy metals (mercury, lead and arsenic). China and Japan usually follow similar directives by monitoring three heavy metals. Canada has set up limits for five heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and antimony). Europe follows even stricter regulations that can involve up to eight heavy metals, depending on the pigment. As a general trend, more and more beauty companies proactively have put limitations on up to twelve heavy metals.

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High Purity Ingredients
for Global Markets

Recognizing consumers’ concerns over the safety of their beauty products as well as the ever-changing and drastic worldwide regulations, Sensient is committed to delivering high quality, high purity, and safe ingredients to its customers. Working closely with regulatory departments, Sensient recently introduced the Unipure® range, simplifying the work of formulators when selecting pigments for global applications. These high purity pigments meet global regulations by following the strictest requirements set by our customers and regulatory bodies across the globe. We also recently extended the Arianor® range of direct hair dyes with new grades meeting the SCCS’s latest purity requirements for Europe.

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Contact us today to discuss your regulatory needs.