Demand Stricter Regulation of Cosmetics Products

Target: The U.S. Congress

Goal: Demand that Congress give the Food and Drug Administration the power to require the use of safe chemicals in cosmetics products.

The average American uses around ten cosmetics products each and every day. This use means a daily exposure to approximately 126 unique chemicals. A majority of these chemicals are unregulated, and a surprising number are known to be toxic to humans. This is true because there is almost no regulation on cosmetics  products in the United States. The EU Cosmetics Directive has banned 1,328 chemicals from use in cosmetics. The FDA, by contrast, has banned 11. It is our duty as a nation to protect our consumers from unsafe chemicals in products that are used every day by millions. Congress must recognize this and pass safe cosmetics legislation as soon as possible.

This is a problem across the board with our cosmetics. Take child bath products, for example. In tests done by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 18 distinct products – baby soaps, bubble baths, and shampoos – were found to have either formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane. These chemicals are both known carcinogens, or causers of cancer. Lipstick is another example. Of 20 brands tested by the FDA in 2009, all 20 were found to have lead in them. The FDA regulates the amount of lead in candy to .1 part per million (ppm). Lipstick is not regulated however, because it isn’t intended for “topic use” (even though it is obviously ingested because of its proximity to the mouth). Almost every brand tested has more than .1 ppm, and the leading brand had 3 ppm – over 30 times the legal limit for candy.

The existing regulation on cosmetics is the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of 1938, which establishes the FDA. It has been amended many times, but only three of these amendments apply to cosmetics products, and the FDA openly admits on its website that it has no legal authority over cosmetics. The FDA has no method whatsoever of requiring safety assessments, or even product recalls. Its “answer” is self-policing, which clearly is not working. The administration has the ability to issue labeling requirements, but they have not been effective either, evidenced by child bath products, none of which listed formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane in their ingredients.

Increased regulation ability for the FDA will especially benefit consumers, small businesses and safer companies, expediting the shift towards safer and cleaner products. More regulation will also lead to  increased transparency, so that cosmetics companies will have access to safety assessments conducted by other companies and suppliers. This will make for much safer products, and especially benefit smaller companies who cannot afford to do large-scale product testing.

By signing the petition below, you are urging change from your Congressional leaders. Demand that the new session of Congress allow the FDA to regulate our cosmetics and make for a much safer future.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Nanci Pelosi and John Boehner,

The state of our cosmetics industry is in disarray. Millions of Americans – almost all that use cosmetics products – are unknowingly ingesting products that are detrimental to their health daily. The average American ingests 126 unique chemicals every day, and a majority of them are unregulated. We are woefully behind the rest of the world in this regard. The EU Cosmetics Directive has banned 1,328 chemicals from use in cosmetics while the FDA has banned a measly 11. Please urge your respective chambers of Congress to give the FDA the power to regulate our cosmetics products and make more a much safer future.

Two products that are of note are child bath products and lipstick. Eighteen distinct child products – baby soaps, bubble baths, and shampoos – were found to have either formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane, two known carcinogens. And in a 2009 FDA study, of 20 lipstick brands tested, all 20 were found to have some amount of lead in them. Most of these products had more than .1 part per million (ppm) of lead, which is the legal limit of lead that can be in candy, and the leader had 3 ppm!

I am urging you to amend the current powers of the FDA. Please enact legislation to make cosmetics use safer for all Americans.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: JSF539 via Flickr

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One Comment

  1. Most compounds in cosmetics and household products are not regulated, where the FDA is weak compared to the power of lobbyists. Many products are considered to be patents so that labeling of toxic ingredients is not required, yet extensive animal testing is. Material safety data sheets fail to list many of these hazardous compounds.

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