By and  on February 22, 2008

PARIS — The beauty industry has begun going through its paces as it begins the marathon task of preregistering chemical ingredients used in cosmetics and fragrances to be in line with recently introduced European legislation.

A plethora of chemicals commonly used in beauty products could become more difficult to source if suppliers fail to register them under Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals regulations, which came into force in June 2007. That's because suppliers, who may at once provide ingredients for several industries, must compile safety data specific to each of its chemicals' intended applications.

A supplier producing pigment who wishes to sell the product for use in both household paint and cosmetics, for example, would have to provide data relevant to both uses.

Since preparing such information is a lengthy and expensive process, some executives believe suppliers will register their chemicals only for the applications that are most profitable.

"If say 90 or 95 percent of a supplier's business is dedicated to another industry, then they don't want to spend a lot of money on 5 or 10 percent of their business," said Eric Perrier, director of research and development for LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. "It doesn't mean the ingredient is not supported under REACH in other applications, but the ingredient is disappearing from their list of cosmetics ingredients.

"We already have some suppliers who are not able to provide us anymore with some of the key ingredients we were using one year or even six months ago," he continued, noting that certain silicones, widely used in plastics, are being removed from suppliers' lists.

While many major suppliers have guaranteed that all the ingredients in their catalogues will be registered, others are using REACH as an opportunity to streamline their portfolios by removing products that are not sold in bulk, according to Perrier.

To make up for that, the European Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association, or COLIPA, has established consortia of beauty manufacturers to collect data on some raw materials, which may not be registered by suppliers for cosmetics applications yet.

The situation becomes more difficult for smaller suppliers who tailor-make exclusive ingredients for cosmetics manufacturers, as they will likely be obliged to carry the burden of putting together dossiers for those substances on their own.Large manufacturers with sizable purchasing power are somewhat buffered from the impact of suppliers whittling down their portfolios. Laurent Gilbert, L'Oréal's director of raw materials, said the implementation of REACH has so far had no impact on the beauty giant's sourcing processes and that all its chemical ingredients will be preregistered by June.

LVMH, meanwhile, has the capacity to replace discontinued ingredients. Perrier estimates that between 15 and 20 percent of the time spent formulating products is now being dedicated to changing existing formulas. He expects the figure to increase to 30 percent in future years.

In all, Perrier predicts LVMH could lose between 10 and 20 percent of the ingredients used in the firm's current product portfolio. In about 80 percent of those cases, chemicals will be unavailable because suppliers believe the amounts used do not warrant the expense of registering them for use in cosmetics.

"The situation is still not 100 percent clear for each supplier," said Perrier. "It's not easy for us to know yet which will disappear and which will not."

Perrier said REACH readiness is now a criterion when deciding which suppliers to work with.

"If a substance is not being defended by supplier X we switch to supplier Y," he said.

Apparently, preparation levels vary hugely.

"I recently heard from a company who had just become aware of REACH," said Cliff Betton, managing director of Delphic HSE Solutions Ltd., a Surrey, U.K.-based REACH consultancy. "I don't suppose they are alone."

There are also varied degrees of preparedness across the cosmetics and fragrances categories.

The European Flavour & Fragrance Association has set up mini trade groups to discuss issues, which could impact the availability of scent ingredients in the future. Suppliers have met to establish the volumes of fragrance ingredients they use in the EU so the companies will be able to prioritize the chemicals they need to register by 2010. (Substances used in volumes above 1,000 tons a year or those considered to be of concern for human health and the aquatic environment must be registered by that date.)

"EFFA has done a tremendous job of getting the fragrance industry organized to prepare for REACH and to facilitate the development of the groups, chemical groups and bringing the companies together," said Kenneth Schrankel, vice president of regulatory policy and industry issues at International Flavors & Fragrances in New York. He noted that the effort began in October with six groups, which he described as "pre-consortia" panels. "It was specifically designed to use those six groups as a learning exercise," he added. "It was like the shakeout cruise."The IFF executive also noted that a protocol for testing natural compounds is in the works and a meeting will be held on the subject next month.

In meetings, which united industry competitors last October, EFFA began establishing the quantities being used plus identifying gaps in the data for six chemical groups representing about 80 molecules.

"When you get 15 to 20 companies sitting around a table, you've got a lot of issues to deal with, intellectual properties and costs and all of these factors need to be figured out," explained Schrankel. "They've gained a lot of experience."

That experience is being applied to meetings called this week to discuss 11 more groups of chemicals including different types of alcohols.

The aim is to establish before yearend testing proposals for any data missing for 17 groups of chemicals, representing some 230 fragrance molecules earmarked for 2010 registration, according to Robert Fellous, senior vice president of regulatory affairs for Symrise Global Scent and Care.

For cosmetics, however, preparation is less systematic. Though the European Federation for Cosmetic Ingredients has launched consortia for cosmetics ingredients, there are no exact guidelines yet on what the ingredients destined for the 2010 deadline might be.

"We have our priorities at Symrise but we don't know if our priority corresponds to what may be required by 2010," Fellous said.

Schrankel at IFF noted that the guidelines for compliance with the law are still being written — four have been finished and six others are still in draft form. It is therefore premature to speculate on what impact REACH will have, either on costs or availability of ingredients, he said.

"We don't have all the answers," said Schrankel. "We're still in the how-do-you-do-it phase."

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