Essential oils: How to assess risk

3-Mar-2022

Although widely appreciated for their therapeutic properties and a popular ingredient in cosmetics, essential oils require rigorous safety assessment in view of their known toxic and pharmacological effects, as Claudine Fioravanti, Head of SGS IDEA Legal explains

Essential oils: How to assess risk

Recognised since ancient times for their notable therapeutic properties, essential oils from the distillation of aromatic plants occupy an important place, not only in the medical field but also in the field of cosmetics.

Cosmetic products containing essential oils are increasingly present at points of sale and are attracting more consumers. This may be explained in part by the significant reduction in the number of preservative agents authorised in cosmetics – a source of difficulty for the formulator responsible for formula stability – with antimicrobial properties being recognised in many essential oils.

However, these oils are not without risk to human health; their safety for a cosmetic formulation must be assessed by taking into account their potential danger and their exposure under the normal conditions of use anticipated by the formulator with particular attention paid to sensitive populations, such as children, pregnant women or those breastfeeding.

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In addition, potentially concerned by a number of regulations, safety assessment of these products is not without difficulties.

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