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July 28, 2021

EC Publishes Report on Use of Nanomaterials in Cosmetics and Review of Cosmetics Regulation Regarding Nanomaterials

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

Pursuant to Article 16 (10) and (11) of Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 (Cosmetics Regulation), the European Commission (EC) is required to submit to the European Parliament and the Council an annual status report on the use of nanomaterials in cosmetic products and to review the Regulation’s provisions concerning nanomaterials. The July 22, 2021, report includes the following main findings:

  • On average, ten new cosmetic products containing nanomaterials are placed on the European Union (EU) market every day; this is only a fraction of the 800 new cosmetic products notified daily in Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP). Overall, the use of nanomaterials concerns a rather limited number of all cosmetic products (about 1.5% of the total) and has been rather stable over the past five years;
  • Most of the cosmetic products notified in the CPNP correspond to nanomaterials with a colorant or ultraviolet (UV) filter function;
  • There are differences in the percentage of newly notified cosmetic products containing nanomaterials among EU countries (from 0.8% to 5.5%), as well as in the share of the overall notifications of nanomaterials (from 6.5% to 43.7%);
  • The 2019 EC catalogue of nanomaterials “represented a rather accurate picture of the market, albeit with the inherent limitations stemming from the notification process”; and
  • Most of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety’s (SCCS) opinions on the safety of CPNP-notified nanomaterials were inconclusive due to the lack of or insufficient data. Therefore, there is a need for responsible persons to provide the most accurate information possible when notifying nanomaterials that are present in cosmetic products.

The report states that aligning the nanomaterial definition in the Cosmetics Regulation with a horizontal definition “could increase coherence between legislation but should be thoroughly assessed in order to evaluate its potential effects.” According to the report, because of identified shortcomings in the notification process, the effectiveness of the current process via CPNP “merits specific attention, in particular the duration and effect of the expiry of the deadline as laid out in the Cosmetics Regulation.” The report notes that the scientific safety assessment of nanomaterials “could be strengthened, in particular as experience has shown that the majority of the completed assessments by [SCCS] were inconclusive due to lack of data.” Since most EU citizens “consider it important to be informed about the presence of nanomaterials in products they buy,” the report suggests that digital labeling should be considered to complement and improve further the labeling of nanomaterials in cosmetic products.