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Potential Increased Regulation in Cosmetic Industry

Aug 22, 2016

Rigorous testing of pharmaceuticals is required by Congress to prove safety and efficacy in products before they are made available to consumers. Personal care items such as lipstick, shampoo, or deodorant, used on a daily basis, are not currently subject to this sort of regulation.

Wen Hair Care products have recently come under scrutiny after receiving over 21,000 reports from consumers who complained of itching, rashes, and hair loss after using their products. Formaldehyde, used in some hair-straightening products is a known carcinogen and salon workers and some customers have reported allergic reactions, hair loss, rashes, blisters, and other problems.

Two Senators, Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins, have proposed a bill that would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate a minimum of 5 chemicals used in cosmetics each year and to have the fees for those reviews paid for by the industry itself. This would also give the FDA the authority to order recalls of potentially unsafe products and to necessitate companies to provide safety data and information of any adverse health reports received from consumers, according to The New York Times.

The Environmental Working Group and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network support the proposed bill, along with company giants including Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble. The bill is not supported by some, such as Mary Kay, who support a much weaker measure that would not require FDA review of risky ingredients, or give the agency the power to order recalls.

Lead acetate, a color additive used in hair dyes, is one of the first 5 chemicals to be reviewed. It has been banned by the European Union (EU) as it is linked with reproductive issues. The other 4 chemicals are used in shampoos, lotions, as well as other personal care products. The EU limits the concentration in which those compounds are permitted to be used, reports the Times.

Over 1,300 chemicals have been banned or restricted by European officials, compared to the FDA which has prohibited 11 ingredients. This disturbing discrepancy shows how far behind the United States is in this situation. This also illustrates that sensible regulations will not cripple cosmetic companies, as many of their products are covered by European law already.

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