This is important because it explains how one can use substances with hazardous properties safely. The substance itself may possess a toxic property but that does not make it poisonous. Salt, for example, is known to be toxic at high levels but consumption of a certain amount is essential for health and safe in those quantities. Knowing that a hazard does not present an unacceptable risk is determined by a risk assessment. Each one of us make risk assessments every day without realising it, for example every time we cross a road.
Importantly, nearly every substance has a hazardous property. Scientists formulating cosmetic products make sure that the exposure to ingredients and the way they are used within the product are safe by managing the risk. This is further checked by a qualified safety assessor who performs a ‘risk assessment’ on each and every product before it is placed on the market. This is known as a safety assessment.
For example, alcohol (ethanol) is hazardous, it can be toxic. We know that consuming large quantities is bad for health and can even prove fatal. Thus the hazard is toxicity. However, this is unlikely to be seen when alcohol is used in a fine fragrance, an after-shave product or a deodorant because the exposure is so low. Even water, drunk to excess, can be toxic yet no one would seriously consider prohibiting its use as a cosmetic ingredient just because it possesses the hazardous property of toxicity.
This is how safety assessors ensure cosmetics are safe for use even if some of the individual ingredients might possess hazardous properties when applied under very different and excessive circumstances.