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Quassin on the verge to be banned?

©Thinkstock/L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

Extracted from the quassia tree (also called Bitter tree) bark (Quassia amara L.) or from Picrasma excelsa, quassin has recently been evaluated by the French Agency for sanitary safety of health products (Afssaps). Its conclusion, “It is impossible to assess the risk of this substance used in cosmetics.” The Cosmetology Commission suggests to list it in the Annex II of banned substances.

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This work by the Afssaps follows a standing reference from French Minister of Health on the risks that could be due to reprotoxic ingredients and/or endocrine disruptors used in cosmetics.

Based on in vitro and in vivo studies, published by the Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR) - 2008, quassin is among identified substances, and its risk has been assessed.

The Cosing identifies this substance as CAS 76-78-8 / 68915-32-2 (INCI name: Quassin), and states it is used as denaturant in cosmetic products. It belongs to the quassinoids class, also called “bitter ingredients," from the Simaroubaceae family, which are modified triterpenes.
It is also used in food as a bitter flavouring agent, for its pharmacological properties, or as insecticides and herbicides.

Too few data

Studies on the quassin toxicity are rare, and of low quality, the Afssaps writes in its report. It adds that, after asking the cosmetic industry for more information, it did not receive any data about quassin use. Hence, no figure for an acceptable exposure can be determined.

The Agency concludes, “Due to the low quality of the studies, to the low number of data allowing for the characterization of the risks, it is impossible to perform an evaluation …

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