The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be one step closer to overseeing the registration of cosmetic products, thanks to the introduction of the Personal Care Products Safety Act by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
The bill reportedly aims to protect consumer health and strengthen the FDA’s efforts to regulate ingredients used in personal care products.
“From shampoo and shaving cream, to deodorant and makeup, every American comes into contact with personal care products every day,” said Senator Feinstein. “Families trust that these products are safe, but unfortunately many ingredients have never been independently evaluated," she reported; adding, "Our bipartisan legislation, which has the support of numerous companies and consumer advocacy groups, would modernize [the] FDA’s oversight authority...”
"Americans use a variety of personal care products daily, and they should be able to know whether the products that they are applying to their hair or skin are safe,” Senator Collins noted. “By updating FDA oversight of the ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products for the first time in nearly 80 years, our legislation will help increase safety for consumers, protect small businesses and provide regulatory certainty for manufacturers.”
While the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) initially was established to do just that—independently review cosmetic ingredients to ensure consumer health—advocates continue to express concern over the use and concentration of some ingredients allowed in products. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term exposure to formaldehyde, such as during hair dye treatments, has been reported to cause negative health effects.
Another example is propylparaben, which is used as a preservative. The material mimics estrogen and is safe for use at the low concentrations in cosmetics but concerns have been raised in connection with higher levels, which can disrupt the endocrine and reproductive systems. While not used at these levels in cosmetics, the presence of parabens alarms consumers.
The Bill in Action
The proposed Personal Care Products Safety Act would require the FDA, much like the CIR currently does, to evaluate a minimum of five ingredients in personal care products per year, to determine their safety and appropriate use. The review process set forth in the bill would provide companies with clear guidance about whether the use of the specified ingredients should continue, and/or whether consumer warnings are needed.
The first set of chemicals on the docket for review includes:
- Diazolidinyl urea;
- Diethyl phthalate;
- Methylene glycol/formaldehyde;
- Propylparaben; and
Furthermore, the bill would provide the FDA the authority to:
- recall personal care products that threaten consumer safety;
- require labeling of ingredients not appropriate for children or that should be professionally administered;
- require complete label information to be posted online;
- require companies to provide contact information and report serious adverse events to the FDA within 15 days;
- require manufacturers to register annually with the FDA and provide the agency with information on the ingredients used;
- issue regulations on Good Manufacturing Practices for personal care products;
- fund these new oversight activities; and
- collect user fees from personal care product manufacturers.
According to the bill's authors, its efforts are supported by companies including: Beautycounter, The Estée Lauder Companies, The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild, the Handmade Cosmetic Alliance, Herban Lifestyle, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Makes 3 Organics, Milk + Honey, Procter & Gamble, Revlon, Silk Therapeutics, SkinOwl, S.W. Basics and Unilever.