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VeilleNanos - Framing of nanos in cosmetics

Framing of nanos in cosmetics

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Framing of nanos in cosmetics

By the AVICENN team – Last modification November 2022

Nanomaterials in cosmetics: definition and labeling obligation

A definition without a minimum threshold…

The definition of the term “nanomaterial” retained by the Cosmetics Regulations (2009) is as follows:
“an insoluble or bio-persistent material, intentionally manufactured and characterized by one or more external dimensions, or internal structure, on a scale of 1 to 100 nm” .

It is different from the European Commission’s 2011 definitional recommendation and, unlike the latter, does not include a minimum threshold of 50%.

A tolerance of 10% is nevertheless applied by the French control authorities, in order to cover measurement uncertainties and possible environmental contamination1Cf. Information note for the application of the definition of nanomaterials in the framework of Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products, DGCCRF & ANSM, 5 July 2021.

… which could evolve soon

In 2022, the revision of the Cosmetics Regulation was launched. The Commission has expressed the will that the recommendation of definition of the term “nanomaterial”, revised in 2022, be transposed in the future revised Cosmetics Regulation, without having more information at this stage on the possible adaptations that could be made to this transposition.

NB: In 2012, the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC) had proposed various changes to the definition of nanomaterials to better protect consumers from the potential hazards posed by nanomaterials in cosmetics2See the report “Nano-materials in cosmetic products: definition needs to effectively protect consumers”, BEUC, August 2012.

The labeling [nano] of cosmetics mandatory since 2013…

In 2009, the Cosmetics Regulation made it mandatory, as of July 2013, to report the presence of “nanomaterials” (as defined above) in the list of ingredients of cosmetics (Article 19).
The labelling rule requires that the term nano be indicated in square brackets after the name of the ingredient concerned. For example in the case of TiO2: Titanium dioxide [nano].

Please note: the labeling requirement [nano] applies to aggregates or agglomerates3Pascal Courtellemont (LVMH Research) stated in October 2009 that nano titanium dioxide agglomerates “when it is put into cosmetic matrices. (…) We go from sizes around tens of nanometers to 150 nanometers, then to agglomerates at 1 or 3 microns”; source: Verbatim of the Orléans meeting, CNDP nano, October 27, 2009if they are composed of primary particles with at least one dimension smaller than 100 nm, as well as to particles with little or no “solubility”: silicas are no exception4Cf. Opinion on solubility of Synthetic Amorphous Silica (SAS), Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), June 20-21, 2019 (December 6, 2019 corrigendum).

… is insufficiently applied by the cosmetics industry

Although the mention [nano] appeared on some cosmetics as early as 2014, tests conducted by associations and the French public authorities (DGCCRF) have shown that many brands have been very slow to comply with the labeling obligation5The “Organic Solar Collective”, for example, complied only in 2022. See for example the press release from Biarritz Laboratories, January 2022… and others still haven’t started!

These tests highlight every year the presence of nanoparticles (not always authorized) in cosmetics, without mentioning [nano] on the packaging.

Are the arguments put forward by the cosmetics industry acceptable?
  • Some manufacturers argue that any grinding process produces small particles, some of which are nanoparticles, which should not be considered as “intentionally” nano and would therefore escape the labelling obligation. This interpretation, which suits them, does not comply with the regulatory texts, nor with the spirit of the law, which was written to allow better information and protection of the consumer. The French authorities nevertheless considered that a 10% threshold provided some flexibility (see above).
  • Some brands have not seen fit to comply with the law, on the grounds that the law will be changed – which is not acceptable from a regulatory point of view… nor from an ethical point of view. In 2022, the revision of the cosmetics regulation is just starting and could be the opportunity to review this definition, articulated – or not – to the recommendation of definition of the term “nanomaterial” (under revision). But the duration and outcome of these processes are highly uncertain.
  • Many blame their suppliers6See in particular:
    “If some (suppliers) don’t have the ability or willingness to characterize their ingredients, the information will be truncated. Marie-Laure Gratadour Valcarcel, head of raw material approval at Pierre Fabre, a manufacturer of cosmetics, food supplements and medicines, testified to this. If suppliers with strong backbones (…) are able to transmit information on their materials, suppliers of materials (…) have much more difficulty in producing data or transmitting them”.. Source : NanoRESP Forum Proceedings, June 19, 2018.
    – In the lip balm Avene “the additives / ingredients are entirely in nanometric form without the consumer has the information of their presence , indignant association UFC Que Choisir. “Our Cold cream lip stick does not contain any nanomaterial as defined by European cosmetics regulations, as attested by the certificates issued to us by our raw material suppliers,” says Avene.” Source: Nanoparticles: clarification from Avène laboratories, Le Moniteur des pharmacies, 24 January 2018
    brands, which did not provide them with information on the nanometric nature of their ingredients, or worse, provided them with certificates that falsely stated that they were NOT nanometric; but brands must ensure the control of the supply of ingredients and raw materials and control their finished products more closely, with controls based on adequate methods and tools, coupled with solid expertise.
  • Other arguments put forward show a flippancy (or bad faith) that is out of step with the seriousness and responsibility that consumers have a right to expect from brands, at a time when “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) is being touted: “there are less than 50% nanoparticles in my substance, I don’t have to label it” False, the definition of the Cosmetic Regulation does not include a threshold; “but then you’d have to label almost everything nano, so it doesn’t make sense!” : wrong again…

In the end, the brands that have played the watch and wait-and-see card since 2013, by not complying with the labeling obligation [nano] have thus illegally “earned” at least a decade of not labeling, during which the European Commission turned a blind eye!

It must be recognized that some of the unfortunate non-compliance issues relate to the fact that the regulations are somewhat confusing. In addition to the definitional problems mentioned above, there is the complexity of the authorization process, which can lead to the rather bizarre situation where a substance may not (yet) be “prohibited”… without being expressly “authorized” (see below). However, even when they are not formally “prohibited”, these substances must be labelled [nano]!

And if all suppliers do not necessarily specify the nanometric size of the ingredients they sell to brands7“The problem of the presence or absence of nanoparticles in a product can become even more complex once the manufacturing chain of a product integrates ingredients from different suppliers. If some of them do not have the capacity or the will to characterize their ingredients, the information will be truncated. Marie-Laure Gratadour Valcarcel, in charge of raw material approval at Pierre Fabre, a manufacturer of cosmetics, food supplements and medicines, testified to this. If suppliers with strong backbones (…) are able to transmit information on their materials, suppliers of materials (…) have much more difficulty in producing data or transmitting them”.. Source : NanoRESP Forum Proceedings, June 19, 2018. or present erroneous “nano-free” certificates (because they are based on inadequate measurements performed with analysis methods that are not suitable for measuring particles smaller than 100 nm, for example!), brands are responsible for the products they put on the market and must check the information provided by their suppliers: if documentary analyses of “product sheets” are necessary, additional laboratory controls are a more reliable guarantee – provided they are carried out with adequate methods and tools, coupled with solid expertise.

The DGCCRF continues its controls and has already obtained withdrawals or compliance of products (see below).

And fortunately, some brands or federations have taken the nano issue seriously. Cosmed, for example, an association of SMEs in the cosmetics industry, has produced documents for its members (which are also available to the public), making a real effort to educate them, which is remarkable for the quality and thoroughness of its information8See Nano or not Nano? (video), Cosmed, May 2022 and NANOMATERIAUX: Cosmed untangles the real from the fake, (press release), Cosmed, February 2021.

Placing nanos on the market: authorizations & prior declarations

For professionals, there is an obligation to notify all nano-ingredients used, including on the “Cosmetic Products Notification Portal”(CPNP) of the European Commission.

The 6 nanomaterials authorized in cosmetics (under conditions)

* The almost systematic use of titanium dioxide for applications where the anti-UV function is not strictly necessary is controversial, particularly in anti-wrinkle creams: “In a skin care cream with a purely aesthetic aim such as an anti-wrinkle, the presence of UV filters with a proven risk, or even only suspected of toxicity, is not acceptable” “ thus indicated 60 Millions de consommateurs in 201817Cf. ” Anti-wrinkle creams: unwelcome UV filters,” 60 Millions de consommateurs, October 25, 2018.

At the end of June 2022, the European Commission asked the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) to re-evaluate the safety of TiO2 in cosmetics, with regard to its genotoxicity in case of inhalation and oral exposure. Among the types of cosmetics mentioned: lip balms, lipsticks, toothpastes, powders, hair sprays. The CSSC has nine months to issue its opinion, which should therefore be finalized in March 2023.

The 12 nanomaterials soon to be banned in cosmetics

In February 2022, following health concerns identified by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), the European Commission published a draft regulation to ban the use in cosmetics of five groups of twelve nanomaterials in total:

  • styrene acrylate copolymer, sodium styrene acrylate copolymer,
  • copper, colloidal copper,
  • hydroxyapatite,
  • gold, colloidal gold, gold thioethylaminohyaluronic acid, colloidal gold acetylheptapeptide-9,
  • platinum, colloidal platinum and colloidal platinum acetyltetrapeptide-17.

NB: The project has been submitted for comment by April 12, 2022. It amends Annex II of the Cosmetics Regulation (which lists the substances prohibited in cosmetic products) to add these twelve nanomaterials in the name of human health protection. The text provides for a “reasonable period of time” to be given to manufacturers to make the necessary adjustments in terms of product formulation and labelling. Another deadline should be defined for the withdrawal of cosmetics that do not comply with the new requirements and that have been placed on the market before the entry into force of the new requirements. The length of these periods should be determined taking into account the concerns of the SCCS and the potential risk to human health associated with the specific nanomaterials, as well as the number of cosmetic products involved.

Two types of authorization

The Cosmetics Regulation provides for two types of authorizations, depending on whether or not nanomaterials are used as colorants, UV filters and preservatives:

Source: DGCCRF, 2018

Express authorization

An “express” authorization has been put in place for substances used as colorants, UV filters or preservatives and included (a posteriori) in the annexes of the Regulation18As of July 11, 2013, the date of entry into force of the regulation, the SCCS had not issued all its opinions on the main nano-ingredients used in cosmetics in response to the cosmetics industry, which wanted them to be included in the annexes of the Cosmetics Regulation so that they could be used without prior declaration.
But then he caught up. See below.

Pre-market notification

For substances with another function, a prior declaration (six months before they are placed on the market) must be made by the person placing them on the market to the European Commission19. The latter may request the opinion of the Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety (SCCS).

Opinions issued by the CSSC / SCCS on nanosubstances

NB: At the end of October 2019, the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) adopted the document “Guidance on the Safety Assessment of Nanomaterials in Cosmetics“This document is a comprehensive guide to the safety of nanomaterials, incorporating recent developments in nanomaterial safety research to assist manufacturers and evaluators in their work to characterize and assess the health risks associated with nanomaterials used in cosmetics.

(Without forgetting the French declaration in r-nano)

In France, “nanoparticulate substances” used in cosmetics are subject, like other nanomaterials, to theobligation of declaration to the R-nano register.
The declaration in R-nano does not exempt manufacturers from the European notification obligation on CPNP, and vice versa.

In the r-nano registry, the product category “cosmetics, personal care products” (PC 39) was the second most reported category with 616 reports in 2017. However, as the registry currently stands, products containing these nano substances cannot be identified, hence the need for improvements to the French declaration procedure.

Some cosmetics manufacturers complain about the “administrative burden” related to the fact that the declarations in R-nano and CPNP are not based on the same definitions of “nanomaterial ” and that their suppliers do not provide them with the necessary data correctly and/or very late.
Nevertheless, brands have the responsibility to ensure the quality of their raw materials and always have the possibility to have them tested, using the appropriate methods and tools.

What controls by the authorities?

In France

The DGCCRF27See in particular:
Control of the presence of nanoparticles in food products and cosmetics by the DGCCRF, DGCCRF, January 2018
Nanomaterials in cosmetic products: the DGCCRF takes stock, DGCCRF, 22 February 2021
Composition of cosmetics: the requirement of clear information for consumers, DGCCRF, October 15, 2019
and the ANSM28– Cf. Assessment of cosmetic products inspections at ANSM, ANSM, Perfumes & Cosmetics Congress, November 4, 2020: ANSM presented the results of tests it had conducted in 2019 on 12 toothpastes of different brands, complementing the analyses conducted by the DGCCRF on 5 other toothpastes. Unfortunately, these results have not been made public outside the conferences reserved for cosmetic brands and the ANSM has never responded to AVICENN’s requests for clarification. verify the application by companies of the provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation concerning nanos on French territory.

Since 2017, the DGCCRF has conducted controls that have confirmed the failures of the labeling [nano] as well as the presence of unauthorized nanomaterials (iron oxide and nano titanium dioxide used as dyes for example). Since 2020, the DGCCRF has issued injunctions to bring labelling back into compliance and has obtained the voluntary withdrawal of a dozen products by companies (mainly make-up).

Focus on the use of nanomaterials in UV filters by the French authorities from 2018

The “roadmap” from the 2016 environmental conference had planned to accelerate the use of nanomaterials in the UV filters of cosmetic products as part of the application of the European regulationand in particular the entry into force at the national level of the measures concerning the use of titanium dioxide in nano form. The Ministry of Health and the DGCCRF are the key actors of this “action”.

After initial tests on cosmetics other than sunscreen products in 2016-2017the DGCCRF has been looking, as of 2018, more specifically at nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) in sunscreen products, in order to verify compliance with theEuropean obligation to label nanomaterials in cosmeticsin effect since 2013.

It has highlighted many non-conformities: the absence of mention [nano] in products containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide in nanoparticulate form.

Elsewhere in Europe?

It seems that France is the only country in the European Union where these controls are carried out by public authorities. When will similar checks be carried out in the other Member States?

The DGCCRF has communicated its approach and results to the European Commission since February 2018. Other countries could benefit from this feedback to carry out controls on their territory as well.

The advance of France in this area is probably due to the tests conducted by associations that led to the tests and the work of awareness of companies by the DGCCRF for several years and by the mandatory declaration via the register r-nano that French companies (and those from abroad selling their products in France) have integrated into their practices: France is the country that comes out on top in terms of the number of notifications of nanomaterials in the Cosmetics Notification Portal (CPNP), with nearly 16,500 notifications (i.e. ~44% of European notifications!), nearly four times more than Italy and Germany, which come in at number 2e and 3rd positions, according to a European Commission report published in 2021Cf.29Report on the use of nanomaterials in cosmetic products and the revision of Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products with regard to nanomaterials, European Commission, July 2021.

This is another element that argues in favor of a European register of nanomaterials.

In the United States

See the chapter “Sunscreens Containing Nanomaterials” in the document: Sunscreen Drug Products for Over-the-Counter Human Use – A Proposed Rule by the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, February 2019

A question, a comment? This sheet realized by AVICENN is intended to be completed and updated. Please feel free to contribute.

The next nano meetings

How the world deals with Materials on the Nanoscale – Responsible Use and Challenges (OECD-BMUV, Berlin)
  • International Conference from June 22 to 23, 2023
  • Organizers: OECD, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection(BMUV)
  • Website: https: //…
São Paulo School of Advanced Science on Nanotechnology, Agriculture & Environment (SPSAS NanoAgri&Enviro, São Paulo)
São Paulo
  • From July 3 to 15, 2023 in São Paulo
  • Organizer: FABESP
  • Application from November 18 to February 05. Registration fees and travel expenses are covered.
  • Speakers: see the complete program here.

This sheet was originally created in February 2019

Notes & références

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