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According to a legend, Cleopatra soaked her sails in her perfume so that Mark Antony could smell her ships before they arrived. This is to say that, from soaps and shampoos to perfumes, conditioners and pomades, cosmetics have always been highly valued and used for their properties of aesthetic enhancement. Cosmetics are a broad class of topical agents applied for various purposes such as cleansing, protecting, beautifying, or otherwise altering your appearance.

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Natural chemistry, a shift towards more organic skincare

There is a growing dissatisfaction with the chemical constituents of traditional cosmetics, especially among younger generations. Many newer cosmetics have dropped such problematic chemicals for natural alternatives much to the satisfaction of their consumers. Our understanding of natural compounds has dramatically improved in recent years, and these high quality alternatives often perform as well or even better than the chemicals they replace. Paraben preservatives may be replaced by plant-derived formulations of salicylic acid for example, and petro-chemical agents may be replaced by novel, natural polysaccharide compounds. Renewable, natural, and biodegradable cosmetics appeal to consumers wanting to live more in harmony with both their bodies and the environment.

Achieving regulatory compliance in making cosmetic products

All cosmetics are subject to some form of regulation, but the specifics vary from region to region. European guidelines provide rules for the whole of the EU constituents, while the US has its own set. While many aspects are similar, the EU has a significantly more extended list of banned substances in making cosmetic products such as parabens and formaldehyde permitted in the US. Among others, regulations generally emphasize safety, the appointment of a responsible party, directives for sampling, analysis, animal testing and labeling, and good manufacturing practices.

How cosmetic labeling forms the basis of regulation

A crucial aspect of the cosmetic regulatory process, proper labeling is essential for regulatory approval. A prospective cosmetic in the EU must include the list of ingredients, expiration date, warnings, purpose, batch number, and nominal contents at the time of packing. In addition, you must declare the business name and related information, such as the registered office and the responsible party. You may be asked to provide other data deemed necessary to meet regulations, so take care to check with your local authorities. Due to the broad range of products classified as cosmetics, the scrutiny given to a product may also vary, but more scientifically complex will generally be more heavily reviewed before approval.

In labeling cosmetics, the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients provides standardized names for over 16,000 ingredients. The list is maintained regularly, provides a reference for how ingredients should be consistently labeled worldwide, and independently assesses the safety of those ingredients in unbiased analysis. Ingredients are labeled in order from the most abundant to the least.

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