Podcast: Episode 6, prohibited and regulated ingredients

Audio episode, prohibited and regulated ingredients


The annexes to the 2009 regulations:

  • Prohibited ingredients: a negative list of more than 1300 ingredients
  • Restricted Ingredients: restriction according to concentration, area of application, demographic population
  • Conservatives: a positive list of ingredients recognized as preservatives
  • Dyes: a positive list of ingredients recognized as colorants
  • Sun filters: a positive list of ingredients recognized as sunscreens

Episode Notes

Don't hesitate to listen to the previous episode on thehyaluronic acid as well as the following on animal testing.


Hello, you are listening to episode 6 of the underside of cosmetics, the Podcast which reveals and explains to you with clarity and sincerity the world of cosmetics. I am Julie Magand Castel, chemical biologist and cosmetologist specializing in natural cosmetics and today we are going to talk about cosmetic regulations. And more precisely of the annexes of the regulations in force.

Contrary to what one might think by listening to certain media, cosmetics is an industry that is strictly regulated in Europe. The European regulation is updated frequently and the latest dates from 2009. Its small code name is regulation 1223/2009. The regulations are not always all black or all white and can leave room for some interpretations.

This is why working in the regulatory field requires great expertise and knowledge of the habits and customs of the industry. Often regulations are a real service in their own right in large cosmetics companies. And the smallest companies can have their management outsourced, but the regulations are difficult to manage if it is not our profession. Of course, I couldn't give you a very detailed explanation of this Podcast, but I would like to at least insist on certain points that are often overlooked.

I would therefore like to insist on certain points which do not seem to be well assimilated by certain media, so I name: the safety of the ingredients.

The cosmetic regulations of 2009 regulate the ingredients prohibited in cosmetics because they are recognized as bad for human health. Thus Annex II of this regulation is a list of substances totally prohibited in cosmetics, ie all cosmetics sold in the European Union do not contain these more than 1300 ingredients. It's huge and a real guarantee of security. To have a point of comparison, the cosmetic regulations of the United States only include about twenty banned ingredients.

To give an example of a family of ingredients that has made a lot of noise, it's parabens. As a reminder, parabens are a family of molecules, some of which are or have been used as preservatives in cosmetics. However, they experienced a huge bad buzz because certain molecules were suspected of disturbing the hormonal system. In 2014, new molecules are prohibited and restricted and are added to the list of the 2009 regulations. And among these 5 long parabens are prohibited such as pentylparaben because it is suspected of disrupting hormones.

However, small parabens do not pose a risk and are considered healthy, so no worries with methylparaben. Small parabens have unfortunately inherited the bad image of long parabens for no apparent reason, even though they present much less risk of allergy than some other preservatives with which they have been replaced to face these media attacks.

In the European regulations, there is also a list of restricted ingredients with constraints as to their concentration in the product, the area of application or the demographic population targeted by the cosmetic such as children. For example, products that will be in contact with the eyes will have stricter restrictions than a product for the hands. You imagine that our hydroalcoholic hand gel with 70% alcohol will not pass for an application near the eyes.

In general, the areas of cosmetic application which lead to greater absorption thereof are more restricted in terms of ingredients. I am thinking of the mucous membranes, the eye contour where the skin is thinner and the risk of getting the product in the eye is greater, the lips, the skin of babies, etc. The 2009 regulations also list certain ingredients as preservatives, colorants or sunscreens. However, some ingredients may have bactericidal properties but not be listed in this famous list of preservatives. And that's exactly what some marketers play on when they advertise preservative-free products.

In reality, these are products without preservatives listed in appendix V of the regulation. I do not make any particular judgment on this kind of marketing because in any case I think that preservatives are necessary in products containing water and are absolutely not to be banned.

A contaminated product will do far more harm than a product containing a synthetic preservative. The water in our cosmetics gently welcomes bacteria which will be happy to proliferate in it. And there are plenty of occasions for our product to come into contact with bacteria: we put our fingers in the jar of cream, when we touch the applicator of our gloss with our lips, when we don't seal the shower gel, ... After like any category of ingredients there are champions and less good. Among the less good I think of methylisothiazolinone (MIT) which was widely used in the 70s and rather abandoned 20 years later for its allergenic nature.

To sum up, what is in the annexes of this cosmetic regulation? A negative list of more than 1300 banned ingredients, a list of restricted ingredients and positive lists of ingredients considered as preservatives, dyes and sunscreens. The goal was to lay the foundations, to show that the ingredients of our cosmetics have been extensively tested, and to show you that in Europe we have one of the strictest regulations to best protect consumers and to get you to question the extent of media criticism of certain ingredients.

I hope you enjoyed this episode and you know more about cosmetic regulations.

A new episode will be released next Saturday and you can find the ratings for these episodes on mastelcosmetics.com in the underside of cosmetics section. Mastel is written MASTEL and is the contraction of my two surnames Magand Castel. Do not hesitate to react in the comments, to ask your questions or to indicate what you would like to hear next. You can subscribe to the Podcast Les sous de la beauté today on various Podcast platforms including Spotify and follow its news on Instagram and Twitter with the username mastelcosmetics.

Also and of course feel free to share this podcast with your friends if you think they might enjoy it - thank you. I wish you a great week and see you next Saturday for an episode on animal testing.


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A chemist in the cosmetics industry for more than 5 years and a graduate of the Natural Raw Materials in Cosmetics Master's degree from ISIPCA, Julie is an expert in the development of natural cosmetic products.