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We all know for example that the best way to protect our skin is first and foremost to avoid exposing to strong, direct and prolonged sunlight, particularly during the hot summer days. Yet what has become far more complicated is the debate and discussion around the choice of which products to use on one’s skin and particularly when it comes to whitening products. This raises serious questions around the much talked about topics of endocrine disruptors, organic formulations, controversial ingredients, allergens, international cosmetic directives and the implications each of these on the health of our skin.

So let’s address each of these topics to see where NUNII Laboratoire stands. Firstly it evident that NUNII Laboratoire is not a beauty cosmetic brand. NUNII’s products are classified as dermo-cosmetics i.e. “Cosmetics with a therapeutic indication in the treatment of pigmentation disorders, formulated using pharmaceutical grade manufacturing processes and ingredients and which are exclusively prescribed by doctors”.

Pharmaceutical versus Natural

Now let’s distinguish between a pharmaceutical ingredient and a natural ingredient. The word ‘chemicals‘ tends to have a fearful, negative connotation among consumers but in truth, everything around us is composed of chemicals. Just like there are good and bad natural and synthetic ingredients, there are good and bad chemicals.

When it comes to cosmetics ingredients, there are clearly degrees of ‘naturalness’, with many natural ingredients undergoing some form of processing. Certified organic active ingredients are produced using organic materials and ecological certified manufacturing processes.

The pharmaceutical industry objective is to treat skin disorders therefore it requires concentrated and potent molecules. Nature cannot deliver these active ingredients in sufficient quantity this is where chemistry allows us to produce pure standardized active ingredients for a better efficacy and safety.

In order to have a significant lightening action on the skin, formulations must be a compromise between advantages versus risk, i.e. the need to use powerful active ingredients to produce quantifiable results while limiting the level of irritating and controversial ingredients to achieve this objective without compromising on safety for the patient.


Often there is confusion between the terms allergen and controversial ingredients. There are 26 substances identified by the European Cosmetics Regulations as ingredients known to trigger allergic reactions in sensitized individuals. Contrary to public perception just because something is all natural, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause side effects. Allergies can develop following repeated expose to an ingredient or formulation whether it’s synthetic or natural. In 2015, studies published in the journal Dermatitis found approximately a 25 percent increase over the past decade in reactions to fragrance patch tests that included essential oils such as chamomile derived from plants. This is one of the reasons why NUNII chooses to exclude the use of perfume and essential oils from its products.

Endocrine disruptors

We live in a world in which man-made chemicals have become a part of everyday life. It is clear that some of these chemical pollutants can affect the endocrine (hormonal) system, and certain of these endocrine disruptors may also interfere with the developmental processes of humans and wildlife species.

Unfortunately, the list of Endocrine disruptors is quite long and there are many types and sources. In 2006 the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) fixed the objective to achieve the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are used and produced in ways that minimize significant adverse effects on human health and the environment. While awaiting that day to come, NUNII laboratoire aims meet stringent objectives by adapting a corporate responsibility policy in the choice of all its ingredients and partners, and by going above and beyond the standard regulations by devoting great care to exclude from its formulations the most known controversial disruptors such as parabens, fragrance, triclosan, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, sodium lauryl sulfate, and chemical sun filters such as Octocrylene and Oxybenzone.

International Cosmetic Directives

Probably one of the biggest challenges and unknown facts remains that the cosmetic regulations and norms and safety standards are not harmonized worldwide, the main ones being ; FDA in the USA, EU cosmetic directives, South East Asian cosmetic directives and the Japanese cosmetic directives. This means that some ingredients are authorized for use in cosmetics in one region of the world and banned or come with serious warnings in other parts of the world. Each geographical jurisdiction chooses to implement different rules depending on its own regulatory framework and under the pressure of their local industry lobbyists.

Many controversial substances have been clearly identified by scientific community as harmful to our skin, unfortunately regulations are not keeping up fast enough and many brands do not necessarily take into account the latest scientific warnings in their choice of ingredients, preferring to adopt the minimum effort approach.

Controversial Ingredients

One such widely used ingredient is Azelaic acid, which although blacklisted and banned from use in cosmetics in Asia, is still widely used in cosmetics for whitening in USA and Europe.

Another such ingredient is Kojic acid, which acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor in the production of melanin and is widely used as a skin whitening agent. To be effective for whitening, concentrations of 4% have to be used on the skin, yet the Scientific Committee for Consumer Safety in Europe and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board in the US do not recommend it be used over 1% in left- on products or peel treated skin as it exacerbates the skin’s sensitivity and almost invariably becomes an irritant.

Hydroquinone is the gold standard ingredient worldwide in skin bleaching. Hydroquinone acts by causing the release of cytotoxic substances into the melanocyte, causing its permanent irreversible destruction. Hydroquinone is indeed effective, but it leaves the skin dangerously exposed to UV radiation in the future. Yet is spite of numerous studies demonstrating its toxicity and irritation to the skin, many manufacturers and doctors still systematically resort to it, due to prescriptive habit.

NUNII policy on irritating and controversial ingredients

NUNII Laboratoire scrupulously abides by not only European but also International regulations. We adopt a proactive scientific monitoring of the latest research on skin irritants and other toxic substances in the field of dermo-cosmetics in order to avoid their use in our formulations. We privilege the latest innovations and opt for pure and highly concentrated ingredient dosages. The main objective is to limit the number of possible side effects and allergic reactions which is key in successful depigmenting treatments.

NUNII Laboratoire achieves this through cutting-edge research and development programme with world leading research centres and a relentless effort to bring to patients the best possible, yet genuine and out-of-ordinary skin care products.

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