Pretty hazardous

 
Published: Tuesday 25 August 2015

Analysis
The cosmetic industry is one of the fastest growing in India. In 2011, the industry registered impressive sales worth Rs 26,410 crore
Author: Chandra Bhushan, Amit Khurana, Indu Dhangar and Kundan Pandey
Pallavi Saxena, 21, is an aspiring model in Delhi who must look fair and glamorous all the time. Every day, in the morning and evening, she gently massages a fairness cream to enhance her complexion. She never steps out of the house without makeup. “I always carry a lipstick in my purse for reapplying in between my shows, meetings and dinners,” Pallavi says. Linda Pannei also swears by cosmetics. She works at a showroom of leading cosmetic brand, ColorBar, in Delhi. To make sure that the lip colour does not fade, she applies lipstick three to four times during the working hours. “It helps convince customers about the company’s latest products, while making me feel beautiful and confident,” says Linda. Both Pallavi and Linda use branded products that come with high price tags. “Branded cosmetics are safe,” says Linda who spends about Rs 5,000 a month on the products. So feel millions of people, both men and women, who are increasingly relying on cosmetics to look their best.
 
Study on cosmetics
Pallavi Saxena, 21, is an aspiring model in Delhi who must look fair and glamorous all the time. Every day, in the morning and evening, she gently massages a fairness cream to enhance her complexion. She never steps out of the house without makeup. “I always carry a lipstick in my purse for reapplying in between my shows, meetings and dinners,” Pallavi says. Linda Pannei also swears by cosmetics. She works at a showroom of leading cosmetic brand, ColorBar, in Delhi. To make sure that the lip colour does not fade, she applies lipstick three to four times during the working hours. “It helps convince customers about the company’s latest products, while making me feel beautiful and confident,” says Linda. Both Pallavi and Linda use branded products that come with high price tags. “Branded cosmetics are safe,” says Linda who spends about Rs 5,000 a month on the products. So feel millions of people, both men and women, who are increasingly relying on cosmetics to look their best.
 
Press Release
Presence of heavy metals in cosmetics – a CSE study release
New CSE study finds mercury in fairness creams and chromium and nickel in lipsticks. Mercury is not permitted to be used in cosmetics in India – their mere presence in these products is illegal

India has very weak regulations and almost no enforcement, which is why some companies are getting away with flouting the law
 
Lab Report (pdf)
CSE study on cosmetics is one of the biggest of its kind in India
Cosmetic is defined as “Any article intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, or introduced into, or otherwise applied to, the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance, and includes any article intended for use as a component of cosmetic”1. Cosmetic products are regulated for health and safety. There are concerns regarding the presence of harmful chemicals, including heavy metals, in these products. There has not been many studies on presence of heavy metals in cosmetics in India. To assess the levels of heavy metals, PML conducted a study on commonly available lipsticks, fairness creams, lip balms and antiaging creams.
 
 
 
 
Data Charts
Chromium in lipsticks
CSE calculated the exposure to heavy metals from cosmetics as percentage of Average Daily Intake (ADI). ADI is the maximum amount of a toxin that a person can be exposed to without any appreciable health risk. The graph below shows the level of exposure from Chromium in different brands of lipsticks as per cent of ADI. Exposure from two types of use—average use (24mg/day) and high use (87mg/day)—has been calculated.
 
Health Impacts
A variety of chemicals are used in cosmetics as ingredients and some are used as preservatives. These chemicals have different health effects.
Hexavallent Chromium (Cr+6) is corrosive and allergic to the skin. Cr+6 compounds are enlisted as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Adverse effects of the Cr+6 on the skin may include ulcerations, dermatitis, and allergic skin reactions. Inhalation of Cr+6 compounds can result in ulceration and perforation of the mucous membranes of the nasal septum, irritation of the pharynx and larynx, asthmatic bronchitis, bronchospasms and edema. Respiratory symptoms may include coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath, and nasal itch.
 
Company Responses
CSE shared its findings with the respective companies to find out the reasons for the presence of such high levels of heavy metals in cosmetics. “We hoped that this would help find ways to limit the presence of heavy metals in cosmetics,” say CSE researchers. After several months of correspondence about batch details, testing methodology and follow-ups, only seven companies responded—The Body Shop India, Lakme of Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Emami Ltd, ELCA Cosmetics Pvt Ltd (Estee lauder), Modi Revlon Pvt Ltd and ITC Ltd.
 
Regulations
Cosmetics products in India are regulated under the Drugs and cosmetics Act 1940 and Rules 1945 and Labeling Declarations by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). BIS sets the standards for cosmetics for the products listed under Schedule ‘S’ of the Drugs and cosmetics Rules 1945 . Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has provided the specification for Skin Creams and Lipstick in the Indian Standards (IS) 6608:2004 and 9875:1990 respectively. IS 6608:2004 says that if all the raw materials requiring test for heavy metals have been so tested and comply with the requirements, then the manufacturer may not test the finished cosmetic for heavy metals and arsenic.
 

 

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