Tuesday, May 3, 2011Cosmetics news

The French National Assembly, the lower assembly of the Parliament, wants to ban Parabens and Phthalates

©L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

The law is very short, with only one article: "Manufacturing, import, sales or any offer of products containing parabens, phthalates or alkylphenols are forbidden". And to the surprise of all, it has been approved by the National Assembly, on May 3, 2011, by 236 in favor, 222 against. Is this the end for Parabens in cosmetics?

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May 3, 2011
CosmeticObs-L’Observatoire des Cosmétiques, on 13 April, had already drawn your attention about the noose tightening on Parabens ( antibacterial preservatives so much targeted), as a legislative bill, initiated by Yves Lachaud, asked for their ban, in an action parallel to a SCCS (a European Committee of Experts)’s report, which asked for a lowering of acceptable content of some of them in cosmetics ( refer to the relevant article ).
However, Europe is often quite slow to take measures, the French proposal had been rejected by the French Social Affairs Commission … and the problem seemed to have put aside for a while.

A kind of a bolt from the blue, this afternoon. To the surprise of all, and against the will of the French government, the Assembly has come to approve the ban of these preservatives , on top of phthalates’ and alkylphenols’, all of them being suspected to be endocrine disruptors and to be the cause for serious effects on the human health (especially fetal malformations and decrease in fertility rate).
For this occasion, there has been some "trans-party" agreement, as 19 deputies from the government party UMP voted along with the opposition deputies to get a majority.
Nevertheless, this is far from a death sentence for Parabens

So what?

Till now, phthalates (already banned in our children’s toys) are still widely used in many products used every day: packaging, adhesives, paints, cosmetics (nail polishes, hairspray, perfumes…). Parabens , that the industry strongly backs, are still in the preservative formulae of some food, of many drug, and, of course, of many kinds of cosmetic products . Are they to be left aside soon? Not so sure …

The first point is that this bill must also be endorsed by the High Chamber, the French Senate. This today’s approval was only the first step. The other point is: will the Government, which was against this bill, make some pressure on its deputies and Senators, so that the decision is reversed?  In addition, as a final step, should the bill be approved by both chambers, Europe would have a say about this "French exception".

Even though "anti-parabens" are more and more present in the European Union (Denmark has recently asked for their ban in cosmetics designed for under-3 children, for whom endocrine disruptors may be especially harmful), the European way of doing (and its regulation, which is mandatory in France) is more to have them allowed, though with some restrictions about their rates in finished products. This, at least, until scientific studies, still in progress, have given data about their potential harmful effects.

No, not yet over! Parabens will be again a topic!

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