Essential oils: how to assess the risk

March 3, 2022

Although widely valued for their therapeutic properties and a popular ingredient in cosmetics, essential oils require rigorous safety assessment given their known toxic and pharmacological effects, as explained by Claudine Fioravanti, Head of SGS IDEA Legal.

Recognized since Antiquity for their remarkable therapeutic properties, essential oils from the distillation of aromatic plants occupy an important place, not only in the medical field but also in the cosmetic field.

Cosmetic products containing essential oils are increasingly present in points of sale and are attracting more and more consumers. This can be partly explained by the significant reduction in the number of preservatives authorized in cosmetics – a source of difficulty for the formulator responsible for the stability of the formulas – the antimicrobial properties being recognized in many essential oils.

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

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Moreover, potentially concerned by a certain number of regulations, the evaluation of the safety of these products is not without difficulties.

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