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Consumer Guide on Undesirable Effects to Cosmetics Products

5 March 2018

Manufacturers of cosmetic products want their consumers to enjoy using their products.  However companies want to know if someone has a reaction to their product.  CTPA has added a “Consumer Guide on Unwanted Reactions to Cosmetic Products” to to help explain what to do in such an instance and why it is important to inform the cosmetic product manufacturer.

Strict cosmetic safety laws

All cosmetic products on the UK and European market must comply with strict European cosmetic laws, which ensure human safety and protect consumers from misleading claims regarding cosmetic products. 

There are three layers to the safety assurance process:

  • European legislation requires cosmetics to be safe.
  • The professional Safety Assessor personally signs-off to say the cosmetic product is safe.
  • Products placed on the market are monitored; any adverse reactions are addressed by companies and may have to be reported to the authorities.


Undesirable effects

However despite all of the safety requirements, it is unfortunately the case that almost any substance, natural or man-made, has the potential to produce a reaction in someone, somewhere.  Each person is different and we might find we are allergic to substances that others use or consume without any problems.  For example, many people can eat peanuts safely while some can react severely to them.  Some cosmetic products may simply not suit some people and as a result, there can be adverse reactions, also called ‘undesirable effects’.  Fortunately these are rare and are usually mild and reversible, meaning they will go away if you stop using the product.  However ‘serious undesirable effects’ may never be excluded in some individuals and, in the case of allergic reaction, the most serious could even require urgent medical intervention. 

Industry Obligations

Another legal requirement under UK and EU cosmetics laws is that companies must investigate any undesirable effects to a cosmetic product reported to them.  However, unless a company gets feedback from their consumers it will not learn about undesirable effects caused by their products in certain individuals, despite the product having the correct safety assessment.

The new consumer guide explains that you should always contact the manufacturer (careline or helpline numbers are provided on the pack) so that they are aware that someone has experienced a reaction to their product.  They will then be able to advise you further on what action to take next.  If the reaction persists or recurs or you are otherwise concerned you should consult your GP.

While reactions are understandably of concern for the individuals unfortunate to experience them, we would like to stress that a reaction to a cosmetic product does not necessarily mean that the product itself is unsafe.  The company will investigate any reactions to their products to make sure there are no problems with them and that they are not unsafe for the general population.  Therefore, if you believe you have had such a reaction to a cosmetic product, do please contact the company and let them know.