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Editor's Note: Little Jars, Big Effects

April 27, 2017 | Contact Author | By: Rachel Grabenhofer
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Keywords: cosmetic | warning | technology | FDA | cosmetovigilance | pharma | sunscreen | claim | safety | sensory | trust

Abstract: Cosmetic technologies are amazing. They pack big effects into little jars and boxes whose outer labels don’t (or can’t) do them justice. If they did, nearly every U.S. marketer would be the recipient of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter.

Cosmetic technologies are amazing. They pack big effects into little jars and boxes whose outer labels don’t (or can’t) do them justice. If they did, nearly every U.S. marketer would be the recipient of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter—and the industry would have larger regulatory issues to face.

In a recent example, one company received a letter for its Purifying Facial Cleanser, for claims of: “stimulating circulation,” “promoting cellular generation,” and helping to “combat acne, rosacea, eczema…” As the FDA put it, “Your products are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses and, therefore, are ‘new drugs’...” The duty-free product catalog, on my recent flight to in-cosmetics London, provided similar examples: an “ultimate miracle worker” with “multi-rejuvenation patented biretinoid and active plant cells” and a “cell power creme,” among others.

Then again, not all products are viewed through the FDA’s lens. Sunscreens are a good example. This category’s very definition, let alone rules, differs per country (see Yarussi). That’s why smart manufacturers keep on top of regional regulatory rules and edge toward them with caution. How?

First, by investing in skin research (e.g., see Maibach), to ensure product safety and efficacy. Also, taking measures toward cosmetovigilance, as Ross-Fichtner explains. These steps are becoming more important as the industry stretches into nutrition and dermatology. The latter is explored by Loing, to bring irritated skin back into balance; and Pantini, to apply the stability and sensory benefits of liquid fluorine chemistry from pharma in cosmetics.

Finally, trendsetting manufacturers also follow cultural beliefs and customs, e.g., halal practices (see Rigano) and K-beauty rituals (see Steventon), to secure not just safety, but genuine consumer trust—perhaps the most important and unwritten effect a company can pack into a product.

Rachel L. Grabenhofer, C&T Managing Editor