Over 50 years ago, early in my career in this industry, a senior official from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told me that cosmetic regulations were easy to understand, and that I only needed to know which of four different types of countries I was interested in exploring:
1. A country where everything was allowed in a cosmetic, except for things specifically forbidden by the government;
2. A country where everything was forbidden in a cosmetic, except for things specifically allowed by the government;
3. A country where everything was allowed in cosmetics, even things that were forbidden by the government; and
4. A country where everything was forbidden in cosmetics, even things that were specifically allowed.
The senior official also provided me with a list of countries exemplifying the four types. Current “political correctness” and my editor prevent me from including the list.
It is not surprising that most countries have a government authority that sets its own regulations to make sure cosmetics sold in the country are safe for use by its citizens. And globally, there are considerable country-to-country differences. This poses the question: Do these differences have any meaningful effect on the safety of cosmetics for consumers? Put another way, as this column suggests, "Do Cosmetic Regulations Make a Difference?”