March 8, 2022 – The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, or SCCS, provides opinions on health and safety risks of non-food consumer goods in the European Union. It is an independent committee of experts from different EU countries. For cosmetics, the SCCS evaluates the safety of ingredients. Its members, scientists from various EU countries, are appointed as per the Commission Decision C(2015)5383 of August 7, 2015.
The role of the SCCS
According to Regulation (EC) 1223/2009 on cosmetic products (Cosmetics Regulation), the opinion of the Committee can be requested in different circumstances and whenever there are safety concerns. They are usually involved in the assessment of each ingredient for which there are safety concerns, but also in the evaluation of CMR substances, nanomaterials, and potential animal testing.
Use of CMR substances and nanomaterials
One important role concerns the decisions taken by the SCCS on hazardous substances. Generally, substances classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction (CMR) are prohibited. Nonetheless, some exceptions exist for CMR substances of category 2. When the SCCS evaluates such substances and finds them safe for use in cosmetic products, these can be used, as stated in Article 15 of the Regulation. The European Commission can also mandate the SCCS to reevaluate these substances usually within a certain periodicity and as soon as safety concerns arise.
The SCCS is also involved when it comes to the safety of nanomaterials. When there are safety concerns, the European Commission requests the SCCS to give its opinion on their use in cosmetics products.
Ban on animal testing and SCCS
Animal testing for cosmetic products is prohibited in the European Union, which is clearly stated in Article 18 (1) of the Cosmetic Regulation. However, under special circumstances, some testing on animals may be allowed and Article 18(1) may be lifted. This is possible upon consultancy of the European Commission with the Scientific Committee. However, this could happen only when there were serious safety concerns on a widely used cosmetic ingredient.
Timeline and future plans
Once the SCCS receives a mandate, a preliminary opinion on the matter follows. Afterwards, between the preliminary and final opinion there is a timeframe of eight weeks in which the opinion provided is open for comments. Eventually, when necessary, there could be a regulation update, which would take in total approximately two years.
As part of the targeted revision of EU Cosmetics Regulation, The European Commission is planning to move the SCCS to ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency. However, the decisions has not been taken yet.
The members of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety are listed here, while mandates, opinions and statements, meetings, procedures, and contacts can be found in our dedicated COSlaw Library – SCCS and here.
Chemical Watch (2021). Move to Echa? ‘We don’t want it,’ says SCCS co-chair. Retrieved on 03/03/2022 from https://chemicalwatch.com/343397/move-to-echa-we-dont-want-it-says-sccs-co-chair.
European Commission (2009). Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products. Retrieved on 18/02/2022 from https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02009R1223-20190813&from=EN.
European Commission (2015). SCCS – Members. Retrieved on 18/02/2022 from https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific-committees/scientific-committee-consumer-safety-sccs/sccs-members_en.