THE COSMETIC SUPPLY CHAIN

Our associates represent the cosmetic supply chain: behind every cosmetic product there is a complex and crucial process, including an extensive research and development phase, and the manufacturing and distribution of ingredients, to get to the final product.

The processes that characterise the cosmetic supply chain are essential to guarantee the use of ingredients that are not harmful for humans. Through the extensive work of all the players lying behind the definition of cosmetic supply chain, manufacturers of finished products are allowed to market safe and quality cosmetic products.

INGREDIENTS

Cosmetics are not a modern or recent invention, since they are probably as old as mankind, just like their components. Cosmetic ingredients can generally be derived from a variety of sources, ranging from natural to synthetic substances.

A widespread belief among consumers of cosmetic products is that natural ingredients are safer and healthier for the human body than synthetic ones. This is not always true. First of all, it is necessary to clarify that our body is not able to determine whether the origin of the ingredient is natural or synthetic.

Moreover, it is good to specify that the absence of a particular ingredient, whether natural, derived from natural ingredients or synthetic, does not affect the quality and safety of a product. Each ingredient is subjected to rigorous testing and frequent controls, according to GMP, or Good Manufacturing Practices, which guarantee a level of quality and safety in compliance with the standards.

NATURAL, NATURALLY DERIVED AND SYNTHETIC INGREDIENTS

The term natural implies that a product is totally made up of natural ingredients, for example ingredients that can be found in nature and are not produced or forged by man. A natural ingredient, for example, is a plant derivative that preserves its original molecular structure without any external intervention to modify it. It has to be specified that there is not a formal and legal definition of the term ‘natural’ applied to cosmetics, so the use of the term in the cosmetic industry could be misleading.

Since the quantity of yield that is obtainable from completely natural ingredients is scarce, the cosmetic industry has been used to modify natural ingredients through a multiple-step process (for example, allowing to extract the ingredient with a solvent), in order to create a new molecular structure to increase performances. Naturally derived ingredients are obtained from raw materials that are available in nature such as in minerals or plants, and go through the least possible amount of processing.

A synthetic ingredient is anything that is not found or harvested directly from nature, so it is meant a raw material entirely created in a lab. It is important to notice that the term ‘synthetic’ does not implicitly involve the level of quality or safety of a product. Most synthetic ingredients are useful to preserve natural ones, keeping a long-term product effectivity to its maximum. Moreover, synthetic ingredients act as a filler to the lacks of natural ingredients, as their usage can cause damage to the environment, as well as not all natural ingredients can be beneficial for our skin.

THE IMPORTANCE OF COSMETIC INGREDIENTS

There are a lot of cosmetic ingredients that are used everyday in order to manufacture products. However, there are some ingredients that are considered the core ones, as a consequence of the great benefits they generate.

Every product has a label that specifies the ingredients containted within it. Every ingredient incorporated inside the product has its function and is essential in order to guarantee the quality and safety of the cosmetic product.

WATER

It must be a ‘pure’ water, meaning it has to be free from pollutants such as microbes and toxines. It is an essential ingredient because it acts as a solvent, able to dissolve other ingredients.

THICKENERS

They are able to increase the viscosity, the volume and the consistency of a liquid, providing more stability to the cosmetic product.

SURFACTANTS

Surfactants plays an important role in cleaning and detergent formulations, since they enable the combination of materials that are naturally unmixable due to their molecular structures and properties.

PRESERVATIVES

Preservatives prevent contamination, avoiding the growth of microorganism like bacteria, and ensure the longevity of cosmetics and personal care products.

UV FILTERS

Their function is to block ultraviolet light, limiting the damage occurring from the exposure of the skin and the hairs to UV rays.

FRAGRANCES

Fragrances are essential oils or aromas, widely used to give a pleasant smell to a product, by covering unpleasant odors coming from ingredients used in the formulation.

COLORANTS

Colouring agents are used in cosmetics in order to add specific colours to the products or to impart colour to the skin of the users of specific products.

EMOLLIENT

Emollients are really important in cosmetics because they slow the evaporation of water, improving the hydration status and this implicates a softer skin.

COSMETIC PRODUCTS

Cosmetics are products designed to protect and to cleanse the external parts of our body. Specifically, according to the EU Cosmetics Regulation:

“‘cosmetic product’ means any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance, protecting them, keeping them in good condition or correcting body odours”

Cosmetic products can be divided in seven different categories:

BODY CARE

ORAL CARE

HAIR CARE

SKIN CARE

PERFUMES

DECORATIVES

SUN CARE

COSMETIC INDUSTRY

COSMETIC REGULATION

The Cosmetics Regulation that came into force in 2013 aims at leading at a full harmonisation and uniformity amongst the various actors of the EU cosmetics market.
The Regulation encompasses both products that are produced in the EU as well as those imported from outside it. Looking at the general implications the Regulation implies, it provides manufacturing practices, as well as content and labelling requirements, in order to guarantee the quality of the cosmetics products and, consequently, the safety of the final customers.

CONSUMER SAFETY

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety is an EU indipendent institution with the aim of providing opinions on possible health and security risks related to cosmetic ingredients and products.
The SCCS is responsible for drawing up recommendations on guidelines, specifically designed for the cosmetic industry and for manufacturers of raw materials, that they have to consider when developing safety tests for substances and products.

GREEN CHEMISTRY

As association representing manufacturers and distributors of ingredients, as well as service providers such as packaging, testing and consulting, we advocate for the Green Chemistry, encouraging also our associates to be virtuous by promoting and believing in this concept.

Also known as Sustainable Chemistry, it is not a chemistry branch, rather it is a new vision of this discipline that is based on principles aiming at a sustainable and responsible development.

The Green Chemistry concept covers the entire life cycle of a chemical product, from the design to the manufacture, use to the ultimate disposal. This concept is explained in depth through its 12 principles.
The concepts of sustainability and responsibility, represent a milestone in the recent scientific and technological process, and played a crucial role in the developments of new ‘clean’ chemical processes, having as a main prerogative the design and the implementation of pollution-free, biodegradable and sustainable production processes or products.

The Green Chemistry needs also a ‘support’ that enables it to be applied on industrial activities, ensuring effective environmental improvements. This is made possible thanks to another crucial concept, that of Green Engineering [1]. In fact, it ensures that the principles of Green Chemistry are properly applied and effective thanks to the design of efficient processes and systems, as well as as the monitoring and evaluation of the impacts.

[1] Rialdi, V. (2019). Ecologia Industriale: un indirizzo concreto e vincente verso lo sviluppo sostenibile. Chimica e Cosmetica, N° 2. Available at: http://www.chim.it/sites/default/files/chimind/pdf/2019_2_48_ca.pdf