Updated on 24 August 2012
Inching towards animal free cosmetic testing
As cosmetics grow more sophisticated and the line between cosmetic products and drugs continues to blur, it will become increasingly difficult for cosmetic companies to use term such as "cosmeceutical" to describe a category of products or ingredients that has not been recognized, defined, measured or tested by the US FDA.
We are beginning to see a new cosmetic category with expanded boundaries and definitions emerging to encompass a new product classification, the pharmaceutical beauty products. Somewhere between moisturizers and hand creams on one end of the spectrum and Botox and Latisse on the other, will potentially reside a new ‘high-tech Rx' category of skincare, which will inherit both the legacy and potential of cosmeceuticals as we know them today.
What is a cosmeceutical?
The term was invented by dermatologist Albert Kligman from the University of Pennsylvania by joining cosme(tic) to (pharma)ceutical. Kligman is credited with showing the effectiveness of topically applied all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) in improving the appearance of aged skin. A cosmeceutical may therefore be regarded as being in-between a combination of a cosmetic and a pharmaceutical product. However, the term is not recognized in law, and ATRA is considered as a drug.
With regards to the guidelines for testing such products for efficacy and safety, the European Commission presented its yearly report on 'Alternative Methods to Animal Tests in the Field of Cosmetics' to the European Parliament and Council. The Cosmetics Directive prohibits animal testing of finished cosmetic products and animal testing of ingredients of cosmetic products in the EU. A marketing ban is also in place, which prohibits selling cosmetic products in the EU, containing ingredients that have been tested on animals. Many of the tests that are needed to ensure the safety of cosmetic products' alternative methods are developed and validated by now. However, work continues to close the remaining gap for the small number of the most complex effects on health for which the marketing ban deadline comes into force in March 2013.
With some help and guidance from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)-funded scientists, China is already one-step closer to introducing its first non-animal testing method for cosmetics ingredients. The 3T3 Neutral Red Uptake Phototoxicity Assay, which tests chemicals for their potential toxicity when they come into contact with sunlight and which is already in widespread use in the US and the EU is expected to be accepted in China this year.