THE LABEL OF A COSMETIC
The new European regulation EC 1223/2009, which replaces the old provisions from 11 July 2013, aims to ensure greater consumer safety and the traceability of a cosmetic product throughout the supply chain. The legislation defines cosmetics as preparations other than medicines intended to be applied on the external surfaces of the human body, or on the teeth and mucous membranes for the sole or primary purpose of cleaning, perfuming, modifying their appearance, correcting body odors, protecting or maintaining them in good condition (art. 2.1a). Cosmetic products cannot boast therapeutic purposes. The cosmetic has nothing miraculous and cannot have therapeutic action, it can be done well, it can be dermo-compatible, eco-compatible and above all it can not create unwanted effects. The slow change of customs and values of our society has led to different considerations of cosmetics seen as a complement to our well-being and now linked to the concepts of personal health. In fact, cosmetics is not only linked to the vanity and whims of women and men who would like to escape the passage of time. It is now part of our life. This change is also reflected at the legislative level in order to protect the final consumer. When we are faced with a cosmetic, we have the right to know what we use and to understand if we are dealing with an effective or functional product for the purpose. Knowing how to read the label is important to appease the illusions offered by newspapers or television stations where you can admire fifty-year-olds so beautiful that they are the envy of much younger girls. Cosmetics, if made according to current regulations, must meet some requirements. The label must bear the list of ingredients in descending order of weight up to 1%, a percentage below which they can be listed in random order. These ingredients are listed following the European nomenclature of raw materials for cosmetic use (inci name). Commonly used ingredients (trivial names) are registered with the noun, generally Latin, with which they are listed on the European Pharmacopoeia. Chemicals and natural derivatives that have undergone a transformation are listed with a technical name. Natural derivatives that have not undergone any transformation other than extraction are registered with the botanical name of the plant of origin, genus and species possibly followed by the type of extract and the part of the plant used. The dyes are easily recognizable by the five-digit registration number preceded by the initials CI (color index) while perfumes and fragrances are indicated by the word Parfuma. Since March 2005, manufacturers have been obliged to mention the names of 26 substances (allergens) identified by a scientific committee. These are substances whose presence must be indicated if present in the amount of 0.001% for non-rinse cosmetics and 0.01% for rinse-off ones. What must be written on the label? The nominal content must be present at the time of packaging, expressed by weight or volume, except for packages with a content of less than 5 g or 5 ml, free samples and single doses. The content in ml followed by the symbol ℮ (pre-packaged EEC) (mandatory): minimum character height of the dosage: up to 50 ml 2 mm, from 50 to 200 3 mm, from 200 to 1000: 4 mm, for example 100 ml ℮. This list must be preceded by the term “Ingredients”. In the case of ingredients identified as nano materials (reg. 1223/2009) these must be identified with the wording (nano). Manufacturing batch number or reference allowing identification of the cosmetic product. In case of practical impossibility, due to the modest size of the cosmetics, this indication can only appear on the packaging. The PAO symbol (period after opening) which consists of an open jar followed by the number of months and M. For liquid containers the symbol of the material (PE = polythene, VE glass etc.), this is often printed on the bottom of the bottle (mandatory). The following are not mandatory but recommended: “dermatologically tested” (if the result of a patch test is available) and the warnings: external use, keep out of reach of children. If there are potentially toxic or particular substances included in Annex III, they must be indicated as precautions for use or warnings. The date of minimum duration (expiry) is mandatory if less than 30 months otherwise optional but recommended. This date must be indicated with the words “use preferably by …” or alternatively with the hourglass symbol. The indications relating to the effectiveness of a product must not go beyond the evidence available. EXAMPLE: The statement “one million consumers prefer this product” should not be allowed if it is based only on the sales volume of one million units. The claims on effectiveness should not be based on electronically manipulated images in the “before and after” situation if the representation is misleading as to the results of the product. Claims should not attribute specific (unique) characteristics to the product in question if related products possess the same characteristics. Beware of those who say that the cosmetic does not contain preservatives since substances with antibacterial and fungal activity are present, with the difference that these are not yet mentioned among the preservatives. These are glycols, amino acids, fragrances. In between, everything that makes the cosmetic sell like exotic plants, hyaluronic acid, some vitamins. Beware of the names ending in siloxane, dimethicone, as their presence highlights a silicone cosmetic, the same silicone that our carpenter uses to seal window panes. This type of cream is shiny, the consistency of chewing gum, beautiful to look at but certainly not similar to our skin. The name paraffinum conceals vaseline oil, the same that was used in the cellar for oenological use, the same that we use as a purgative. With the name petrolatum the legendary stringy vaseline.
Be careful because often in cosmetics sold for natural, a word so dear and beautiful, it is not difficult to find silicone and vaseline.
TIP: Buy simple cosmetics, with a maximum of ten, fifteen ingredients, which have plant derivatives such as Olea Europaea, described by the Latin botanical name, among the first lines.
The skin is the mirror of our inner well-being; it makes no sense to spend tens, hundreds of euros for a cosmetic if we don’t rest well, if we eat poor quality products, if we use imported olive oil, if we smoke. So a good cosmetic, a healthy diet and a correct lifestyle for young and beautiful skin. Tradition, simplicity and intelligence are the fundamental ingredients to give quality to our body and above all to our life.
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