Sometime last week, I received an email from a company who had asked me to test their eye product recalling the item because one of the ingredients was slightly over the Singapore Cosmetic Directive limit. I was rather surprised because the product is already sold in the market. This means that it was sold prior to gaining approval from the Health Science Authority (HSA) here as under the cosmetic directive which regulates the manufacture and placing on the market of cosmetic products, sellers will need to send all cosmetic products for specified tests. So was the company at fault?
Products can be sold even without testing
Well, no because companies can sell their products as long as they have notified the authority. According to information listed at the HSA website, “The product can only be marketed after the notification has been sent to HSA and acknowledgement received.” However, notification and acknowledgement of a product “does not constitute, in any way, an agreement that the product meets all the regulatory requirements. The onus is on the company responsible for placing the product in the market to ensure that the product meets the requirements of the Cosmetic Directive. ”
Going by this, it seems to be possible for irresponsible companies to continue selling their products without ever having them tested. And as consumers, how do we know especially if the products are not from the big boys in the industry? An example would be those imported cosmetics you purchase via a spree or from a blog shop.
Product labelling must follow the Cosmetic Directive
If I interprete correctly, it appears that cosmetic companies which have their products approved must also abide by the Cosmetic Directive Labelling Requirements and one of the requirements is to have ingredients and instructions in English. Besides that, the packaging must include country of manufacture, batch number, contents by weight or volume in metric, name and address of company or person responsible for placing the product on the local market. So products without such information may not be following HSA’s directive.
Aligned with the European Cosmetic Directive
These requirements by the way fall under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which must be implemented by all member countries by January 2008 and it is closely aligned with the European Cosmetic Directive. For more information, check out this link.
FDA cosmetic regulation
As for those in US, they’re protected by the FDA but it appears that cosmetic products and ingredients are not subjected to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives.
The FD&C Act does not subject cosmetics to FDA premarket approval in order to be marketed legally. However, FDA collects samples for examination and analysis as part of its plant inspections, import inspections, and follow-up to complaints of adverse reactions. FDA may also conduct research on cosmetic products and ingredients to address safety concerns. (source)
Regulations for handmade cosmetics
And when it comes to handmade cosmetics, sellers must also comply with the FDA laws and regulations that the big companies follow. For example, the FDA does not accept natural preservatives in creams and lotions such as essential oils, grapefruit seed extract, rosemary oil extract, Vitamin E or potassium sorbate. In addition, if the product contains a color but the seller did not state it, they are also not complying with the FDA regulation. For more readings, refer to this article.
Your opinions please
At the end of the day, we may not always know if the cosmetics we’re buying are really approved according to the local cosmetics authority. The best way to know is to ask, but of course there are some of us who are not too concerned about knowing. What about you? Do you care and would you only buy products that are tested and approved? Please also share any added information you may know about such cosmetics regulations.