Compared to drugs and medical devices, there are few regulations in place to assure the safety of a cosmetic product. A new bill, introduced by senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), seeks change. The proposed legislation would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assess the safety of at least 5 chemicals used in cosmetics every year. Those reviews would be financed by collecting fees from the industry. Additionally, the bill would give the FDA authority to mandate a recall, demand safety data from companies and order them to report any health complaints from customers.
There have been instances where the safety of a cosmetic product has been called into question. Wen Hair Care products, for instance, has received more than 21,000 complaints of itching, rashes and hair loss. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has found that some hair straightening products contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that has been linked to allergic reactions, hair loss, rashes, blisters and other issues.
A New York Times editorial piece notes that there have been a number of concerns involving personal care products. One of the main concerns is whether the use of certain chemicals over time could increase the risk of serious health problems, such as cancer and reproductive problems.
The articles notes that European officials have banned or limited the use of over 1,300 chemicals or groups of chemicals. In comparison, the FDA has banned 11 ingredients. “That shocking discrepancy makes clear how far behind the United States is in this area. It also shows that sensible regulations will not cripple companies that make cosmetics, since many of their products are already covered by European law.” the NYT opinion piece comments.
One of the first chemicals to be reviewed by the FDA would be lead acetate, a color additive in hair dyes. Lead acetate has been banned by the European Union because it has been linked to reproductive issues.