The Financial Times has a general interest article on cosmetic product regulations across the world. Since the article is for a general audience, it does not get into details, but it does provide any interest overview of the issues cosmetics companies have when trying to go ‘international’:

There are four principal regions for cosmetics legislation – the EU, the US, Japan and Canada – and the regulatory frameworks differ significantly between them. To a certain extent, these differences act as a barrier to trade, since products must be tailor-made for specific markets on the basis of the regulatory process, which is not always the same as using the basis of safety concerns or consumer preference.

This affects the competitiveness and economic viability of the industry. The inability to sell similar products across all markets, or the requirement to change test methods, formulations, packaging and advertising, can increase costs for the manufacturer. Delays and high costs associated with the introduction of new ingredients and products can also reduce the potential for market growth. With contrary rules governing what is essentially a global business (the EU cosmetics industry output is estimated at €40bn {$57bn}, and international companies account for more than 80 per cent of cosmetics production here), it is the beauty companies themselves that have to rationalise their approach.

“Generally, we try to formulate for the global market,” says De Stasio. “For example, if a substance such as butyl phthalate (used in nail polish) is illegal in the EU but nowhere else, we will avoid using that particular chemical.” For the Asian market, where there is a demand for skin-whitening products, L’Oreal eschews the use of hydroquinone, which is prohibited in cosmetics in the EU and US. Instead, Kojic acid, a skin-brightening mushroom, is the active ingredient in the company’s White Perfect range, sold in Asia…

Still, clearly international alignment would help the global beauty market, encourage innovation and ensure consumer safety. It’s worth noting that the emerging markets of the Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe are currently basing their approach on the EU model of cosmetic regulation.

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