There are at least four basic requirements to every cosmetic formulation: it should be safe, physically stable, sensorially pleasing and efficacious—i.e., do what it promises to do. Prior to being allowed on the market, raw materials must be tested for safety and although there are differences in registration status between the various countries, one could argue that the safety of cosmetic ingredients is generally not an issue; otherwise, the ingredients should not even be on the market.
However, with the new Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACh) legislation coming into force in Europe, a substantial portion of the raw materials currently available to the cosmetic formulator will be eliminated. This is because low profit margin raw materials will never earn the investment of safety testing back, so they will be taken off the market. The legislation only impacts products sold in Europe but since personal care is a global industry, the impact is felt globally and this issue of reformulation will therefore apply globally. This creates a need to reformulate cosmetic products quickly and efficiently at minimal cost.
Moving forward, this article assumes for the moment that the raw materials used are safe for human application.