Congress Starts Regulating the Safety of Personal Care Products After Almost 80 Years
Since 1938, the federal law designed to ensure that personal care products are safe has remained largely unchanged. The number of personal care products used by men, women and children across the country continuously rises and more and more artificial ingredients are added almost every day. On average, men use six personal care products, exposing themselves to 85 unique chemicals, whereas women use 12 personal care products and exposing themselves to an incredible amount of 168 chemical ingredients. Regarding those numbers, almost no legislation is in place governing said chemicals.
For this reason, a bipartisan bill has been introduced to Congress by Senators Feinstein and Collins, the so called "Personal Care Products Safety Act". Its goal is to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to ensure the safety of cosmetics. The bill would give the FDA far greater authority and oversight over the safety of beauty products.
Until now, the FDA has had almost no power over personal care products, even though such products fall under its jurisdiction. In fact, beauty products avoid regulation, because do not require FDA approval before going to market. The FDA can only prohibit adulterated or misbranded cosmetics from being sold. Perhaps even more alarming to the public is the fact that product recalls with hazardous chemicals are described as "voluntary" on the FDA's website.
However, the proposed Personal Care Products Safety Act would empower the FDA to review the safety of ingredients and gives more oversight over beauty-product safety. The act would give the FDA the same tools for ensuring the safety of personal care products as it uses to regulate food and drugs. Among such tools would be the power to:
evaluate a minimum of five ingredients per year for safety,
order recalls of questionably safe beauty products,
require complete ingredient information for products to be available online and printed on labels,
require companies to register facilities and permit FDA inspection, and
require companies to report serious adverse events to FDA within 15 days.
The bill has already received support from a number of beauty companies, including L'Oréal, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, and Unilever.