Cosmetics can, in rare cases, provoke allergic reactions due to the ingredients they contain, such as preservatives or fragrances. ECARF certified cosmetics have demonstrated in scientific tests that they do not to cause side effects and there is no expected risk that a new allergy will develop through their use. However, despite meticulous product formulation and testing, allergic reactions cannot be completely ruled out in individual cases. The manufacturers of allergy-friendly cosmetics must meet the following criteria for their product(s).
Can an allergic reaction be 100% excluded?
However, despite the most careful product composition and product testing, an allergic reaction cannot be completely ruled out in individual cases.
What are the specifications for contents?
Allergy-friendly cosmetic products must not contain irritant ingredients above their respective thresholds. This property must be confirmed by tests. As a matter of principle, cosmetics of all categories may only contain ingredients that do not have an allergic potential in the concentrations used. In addition, depending on the product category, further standards must be observed:
Fragrances: In 1999, the SCCNFP identified 26 fragrances that have a higher allergenic potential than other fragrances. These 26 substances must not be contained or only detectable in traces below the allergenic threshold. However, fragrances can also improve product quality, there is no objection to the use of non-allergenic fragrances or fragrances below the allergenic threshold.
Preservatives: Preservatives should be used in as moderate a concentration as possible and in the lowest possible concentrations. Methylisothiazolinones, Kathon CG (MCI/MI) and/or iodopropynylbutylcarbamate may not be contained.
A special case is benzyl alcohol, which is both a fragrance and a preservative. Since the allergenic potential of benzyl alcohol is considered to be very low, this ingredient may be contained as a preservative in a concentration of less than 1%.
ECARF dermatologists and allergologists evaluate the formulation and ingredients of each product for quality and safety based on criteria and international standards.
How is the test carried out?
In a test on volunteers, the product proves to be skin-compatible even for people with sensitive skin prone to eczema. The proof is provided in a use test corresponding to the product application, in which at least 20 patients of the respective designated user group with sensitive skin use the cosmetic product for medically diagnosed atopic dermatitis. Depending on the product type, the period of use may vary. If no skin deterioration occurs in any test person within, generally, seven days of application, proof of good skin tolerance is deemed to have been provided.
What guidelines apply to quality assurance and complaint management?
The manufacturer has a functioning, quality-assured system that effectively addresses potential consumer complaints. The following is ensured:
1. the producer’s contact details, such as telephone number or e-mail address, are easily visible on the packaging
2. a personal follow-up of possible complaints by experienced personnel of the manufacturer is guaranteed
3. an efficient organisational structure is in place to systematically record and evaluate complaints and to integrate them into product safety. The manufacturer is committed to making this data continuously available to ECARF and to suggest improvements in case of unexpected problems.
4. an efficient system to provide ECARF’s dermatologists with test solutions for epicutaneous testing in case there is a suspicion of contact allergy caused by the product.
Criteria status: January 2023
Our criteria are continuously updated and adapted to the latest scientific findings. The current criteria for this product group are valid as of January 2023 and the following answers refer to the current criteria. In individual cases it is possible that certified products that have been on the market for some time may still have been tested according to older criteria. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
- Download detailed criteria (PDF)