French authorities detect high rate of non-compliance on nanomaterials in cosmetics


The French Directorate-General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) has found a high rate of non-compliance from businesses on the provisions to the cosmetic products Regulation regarding nanomaterials following a 2020 investigation published last week. 

The DGCCRF identified 11 ingredients initially declared as “non-nano” by the ingredient suppliers and found that nine (82%) of them were nanomaterials upon further analysis. The suppliers were asked to comply with the provisions of the cosmetics Regulation.

The directorate also looked at 27 cosmetic products and found that 24 of them contained nanomaterials. However, only one complied with the provisions concerning the presence of nanomaterials, resulting in 85% non-compliance. Since the DGCCRF started conducting market surveillance on nanomaterials in cosmetics in 2017, the investigations have led to several labelling changes and voluntary market withdrawals. 

For French nanotechnology NGO Avicenn, this investigation is indicative of the country’s leading role in enforcing legislative provisions on nanomaterials. “These checks lead cosmetic brands to be more demanding about the information they get from their suppliers and thus about the quality of the ingredients they are using,” Avicenn said.

While the NGO admits that not all French businesses play by the rules, they are generally more informed and aware of the presence of nanomaterials in the ingredients they are using as opposed to the rest of the EU industry. “Companies outside of France seem, on average, even less respectful of the cosmetics Regulation, which is worrying from a consumer’s perspective.”

According to Chiara Venturini, director general of the Nanotechnology Industries Association (NIA), there is no comparable market surveillance activity recently carried out in the EU but the overlapping obligations for French companies could explain the high rate of non-compliance. 

France has its own national nanomaterial register with relevant provisions from REACH but Ms Venturini said that “the cosmetics Regulation provides a separate cosmetic products notification portal (CPNP) with a different definition of nanomaterial from REACH, adding a further layer of complexity”.

Revision proposal

The NIA expects French authorities to bring their experience to the table in discussing the revision to the cosmetic products Regulation. For example, Ms Venturini pointed out the contribution of the French Directorate-General for Health during the stakeholder consultation to the revision earlier this month, which disagreed with the option of simplified labels and supported the possibility to have more detailed information on the CPNP portal. 

For Cosmed, the French cosmetic association for SMEs, it is important to tackle industry concern over the interpretation of cosmetic definition for nanomaterials. Sybille Millet, regulatory affairs manager at Cosmed, said that the harmonisation of the sectoral definition of nanomaterials will be discussed as part of the cosmetics Regulation revision. 

The cosmetic products Regulation revision is part of the wider chemicals strategy for sustainability, which will include revisions to key pieces of chemicals legislation such as REACHCLP and detergents Regulations.

The Commission expects to present the cosmetic products Regulation revision proposal in the fourth quarter of 2022. The proposal will go through the ordinary legislative procedure and enforcement of the revised Regulation will begin in 2023 or 2024. 

Read More

Chemical Watch, 26 November 2021