Understanding your cosmetics

Cosmetics include products that help us to keep clean, maintain healthy skin and teeth and to smell nice. They help build our self-esteem and make us feel good daily. Throughout our lives we use products such as antiperspirants, fragrances, make-up, shampoos, soaps, sunscreens and toothpastes. That why it’s important to understand them and have confidence in their safety.

This page covers how cosmetics’ safety is assured by EU law, gives an overview of topics such as allergy and allergens in cosmetics and informs you about important ingredient groups.

How are cosmetics kept safe in Europe?

Strict laws make sure that cosmetics and personal care products sold in the European Union are safe for people to use. Companies, national and European regulatory authorities share the responsibility of keeping cosmetic products safe.

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What should I know about endocrine disruptors?

Some ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products have been claimed to be “endocrine disruptors”. This is because they may mimic some of the properties of our hormones or, under experimental conditions, show a potential to interact with parts of the endocrine system. These conditions are not related to real life.

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Are cosmetics tested on animals? No!

In the European Union, testing cosmetics on animals has been fully banned since 2013. Cosmetics Europe, the European trade association for the cosmetics and personal care industry, strongly supports the animal testing ban.

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What about allergens in cosmetics?

Many substances, natural or man-made, have the potential to cause an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction occurs when a person’s immune system reacts to substances that are harmless to most people. A substance that causes an allergic reaction is called an allergen.

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What makes sunscreen work?

Two main types of UV rays from the sun damage our skin: UVA and UVB. They contribute to skin ageing and cause sunburn. Enough skin damage built up over time can lead to skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to protect yourself against both types of UV rays.

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Why do cosmetics need preservatives?

Preservatives are natural or synthetic ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products to prevent them from deteriorating and becoming contaminated by microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts and mould.

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Cosmetics matter to people and play an important role in our everyday life. On average European consumers use over seven different cosmetics daily. You too? It’s only natural that you want to know more about the ingredients in those products.

In the digital world we live in, there’s a deluge of information on cosmetics. However, it can be difficult to know which sources are reliable. COSMILE Europe is a European cosmetic ingredient database that offers reliable, verified and scientifically supported information on almost 30,000 ingredients used in cosmetics.

This database will help you understand why certain ingredients are in your cosmetic products; which properties they have and much more. The database is currently available in fourteen languages with more to come.

Search the Database

Why our information is reliable

All information in COSMILE Europe comes from verified sources and is based on independent expert knowledge.

The list of ingredients and what they do comes from the European Commission’s CosIng database, an official source of information on cosmetic substances and ingredients. Learn more by clicking here.

More detailed information on ingredient properties, whether they are man-made and/or of natural origin, in which types of products the ingredients can be found, etc… comes from independent experts and scientific assessments published by European and national expert bodies.