2002 Toxicol Lett 2002 Feb 28 ;127 (1-3):177-82
Health and Safety Executive, Magdalen House, Stanley Precinct, Bootle, Merseyside L20 3QZ, UK. [email protected]

The use and interpretation of in vitro data in regulatory toxicology: cosmetics, toiletries and household products

There is currently a drive to eliminate animal testing for cosmetics, toiletries and household products; indeed, the European Union Cosmetics Directive aims to prohibit the use of experimental animals for the testing of finished cosmetic products after 2002. At present, national prohibitions are in place in the UK, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, for the testing of finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients. In the USA animal testing for certain types of finished products is mandatory. Against this background, the currently available regulatory in vitro tests comprise methods for eye irritation, skin corrosivity, genotoxicity, dermal penetration and photoirritation. The draft updates to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development guidelines for eye and skin irritation advocate the use of in vitro or ex vivo methods prior to the commencement of animal studies. At present, testing for these endpoints cannot be completed in vitro, but potentially corrosive substances and products can be classified without the need for animal studies. Regulatory genotoxicity testing can be completed using only in vitro methods, provided that a clear negative outcome is obtained for each test. Data from dermal penetration studies may be used to refine risk assessments. Current developments in areas such as skin sensitisation and skin irritation promise that in the reasonably near future such information may be generated without the use of animals.