PARIS — The European Parliament approved Tuesday new rules on cosmetics safety in the European Union.

This story first appeared in the March 25, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The 27 sets of national legislation making up the old EU cosmetics directive dating from 1976 — and last updated in 2003 — was replaced with a single regulation applicable in all member states starting 42 months after it appears in the EU Official Journal, which is expected in the months to come. Certain parts of the rules pertaining to nanomaterials and substances in cosmetics that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction, or CMR substances, will apply from an earlier stage.

“The basic aim of the new regulation is to remove legal uncertainties and inconsistencies, while increasing the safety of cosmetics,” stated the Parliament. “Parliament’s amendments add further improvements, especially regarding the claims companies make for their products and the safety of nanomaterials used in cosmetics.

“If cosmetics ingredients include nanomaterials, as happens increasingly, safety concerns must be paramount,” continued the Parliament, which added that in 2006 the European Commission estimated about 5 percent of cosmetics products contained nanomaterials. The new regulation introduces a safety assessment procedure for products including nanomaterials. Further, nanomaterials in cosmetics must be mentioned in the ingredient list on product packaging.

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The Parliament specified the phasing-out period for animal testing on cosmetics ingredients in a two-step process, in 2009 and in 2013, remains in vigor.

“On the use of product claims for cosmetics, such as claims about their effectiveness, the regulation seeks to ensure that only the real effects of a product can be mentioned in advertising and labeling,” stated the Parliament. The Commission has been asked to draft an action plan on such claims and to adopt a list of common criteria for their use, continued the Parliament.

Under the new legislation, the use of CMR substances is forbidden except in certain cases under strict conditions, and the ruling continues to allow for the use of ethanol, which is found widely in cosmetics — particularly fragrances.

“There are also provisions that will reduce the regulatory burden on industry, without lowering safety,” stated the Parliament.

“French industrialists favorably welcome the text,” stated the Fédération des Entreprises de la Beauté, the professional French union of beauty companies.