A fragrant change: ECHA examines eight potentially toxic cosmetic chemicals for registry
16 Sep 2022 --- The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has proposed eight new entries for its Registry of Intentions with proposed carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic chemical classifications, which will undergo regulatory processes that could impact their use in cosmetic products.
Of these eight new entries, some are primary components of personal care products, potentially forcing an uncomfortable compromise in the sector. Therefore, Cosmetics Europe is looking for feedback from its members on whether the use of these chemicals is paramount.
PersonalCareInsights looks into these compounds to get a better overview of their value in the cosmetics space. The first substance listed by ECHA is cuminaldehyde.
According to ASC, a non-profit scientific organization, commercially used cuminaldehyde is synthetic. It is a component for flavorings, perfumes, and other items with aromas. Additionally, it is said to have therapeutic benefits, but the evidence for these is mainly anecdotal. For example, treating pain, inflammation, nausea and skin disorders.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information lists p-cymene, which is second listed by ECHA, as having a “sweetish aromatic odor,” a “mild pleasant odor” and, when pure, the chemical is said to have “a weak citrus odor.”
P-cymene is utilized as a flavoring agent, a component of fungicides and insecticides in addition to being used as a cough suppressant and phlegm remover in medicine. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).
Of these eight new entries, some are primary components of fragrances.However, there is not a lot of information regarding this chemical’s use in cosmetic spheres.
Although data on 3-p-cumenyl propionaldehyde is limited, EWG Skin Deep claims this chemical used in men’s and women’s fragrances, is safe to use. EWG Skin Deep is a non-profit organization that helps consumers determine the safety of a skin care product.
Lily of the valley
Furthermore, Cyclamen aldehyde, a scent molecule, has been present in soaps, detergents, lotions, and fragrances since the 1920s. The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) accorded it a GRAS certification in 1965, and the FDA has authorized it for use in food in the US.
It provides floral, fresh smells and gives scented goods a muguet (lily of the valley) note that is green and dewy. This ingredient is produced by fragrance makers in a lab using a variety of techniques, and as of late, more environmentally friendly methods are used.
Other chemicals that smell similar to the aroma of the lily of the valley are bourgeonal and 4-tert-Butylbenzaldehyde. Bourgeonal has an aromatic aldehyde used in perfumery. It smells floral, watery and green. At room temperature, the liquid is a light yellow color. On contact, it can irritate and sensitize the skin and it is poisonous if consumed.
Data on Methyl 4-t-butylbenzoate and 4-tert-butyltoluene – the final two compounds listed by the ECHA – is limited. However, they do not appear to be pegged as harmful.
By Mieke Meintjes
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