National Cosmetic Safety Reform
At a Glance
The antiquated U.S. law governing personal care and beauty products allows chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption, learning disabilities, and reproductive harm in the products we use every day. We need a federal cosmetic safety law that gives the FDA the authority to ensure personal care and cosmetic products are safe for people and the planet.
The Safer Beauty Bill Package of 2021 is a suite of four bills that will make personal care and beauty products safer for everyone by getting the toxic chemicals out, reducing unsafe chemical exposures for the most vulnerable, and making ingredient transparency the new industry standard. These bills will go a long way to modernizing our outdated U.S. cosmetics safety law.
U.S. Cosmetic Law Badly Outdated
You may assume that beauty and personal care products are safe, but in reality, cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market today. Due to gaping holes in federal law, it is perfectly legal for cosmetics companies to use ingredients with known hazards to human health and the environment without FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) pre-market safety testing or review. The law that governs this enormous industry is just two pages long and over 80 years out of date.
We need a law that gives the FDA the authority to ensure personal care and cosmetic products are safe for people and the planet.
Specifically, U.S. Congress must strengthen the FDA’s authority, including:
- Ensuring women of color, children, pregnant women, workers and other highly exposed populations are protected from unsafe chemicals in beauty and personal care products;
- Closing labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient disclosure for professional salon products, fragrance ingredients and Internet sales of cosmetic products;
- Requiring industry data sharing of safety studies to assist small businesses and the FDA, and to decrease unnecessary animal testing;
- Mandating supply chain transparency so companies have access to the ingredient information and safety data they need to make safer products; and
- Ensuring the public has easy access to adverse event reports related to cosmetic products that are causing real harm to large numbers of consumers.
Support the Safer Beauty Bill Package
BCPP’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics supports the Safer Personal Care and Beauty Bill Package, a suite of four bills that will be introduced in July 2021, including:
These bills, if enacted, would overhaul the federal law governing these products, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which sets the authorities and responsibilities of the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors. Learn more
Other Approaches to Strengthen Cosmetic Safety
BCPP has been working consistently to strengthen federal cosmetic safety legislation, through the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. In the 116th Congress (2019-2020 Session), we supported and organized support for the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Act by Jan Schakowsky (H.R.4296). This bill set the ‘gold standard’ for reform of the federal cosmetics law. Many of the elements in that bill are now in the four bills comprising the Safer Beauty Bill Package of 2021.
At that same time, we worked to strengthen the Personal Care Products Safety Act of 2019 (S. 726), introduced by Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Collins (R-ME). We took a support if amended position on this bill, because:
- It failed to reveal toxic fragrance ingredients.
- It did not have a strong enough safety standard for cosmetic manufacturers.
- It allowed industry to self-certify the safety of cosmetic ingredients.
- It did not make adverse serious event reporting public.
- It prohibited states from enacting safer cosmetics legislation.
In the 117th Congressional session (2021-2022), we are supporting the Safer Beauty Bill Package and the No PFAS in Cosmetics Act (H.R.3990 / S.2047) introduced by Rep. Dingell (D-MI) and Senator Collins (R-ME). We continue to closely monitor other cosmetics bills. We are also supporting the Natural Cosmetics Act introduced by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (H.R. 5872).
At the same time, we are also working to improve the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022. This bi-partisan bill by Senators Murray (D-WA) and Burr (R-NC) is in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The bill is Title VIII of a larger bill that reauthorizes drugs, medical devices and dietary supplements called the “Food and Drug Administration Safety and Landmark Advancements Act of 2022.’’ The Cosmetics Modernization bill would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to include new provisions for cosmetic products. We submitted detailed public comments in response to a discussion draft and a letter signed by 100 public interest organizations and clean beauty companies with recommended strengthening changes to the bill.
Our suggestions included:
- First and foremost, honor the longstanding right and responsibility of the states to enact laws that protect the health and welfare of their citizens by not preempting state cosmetic safety legislation;
- Create a more robust safety standard based on a “reasonable certainty of no harm,” that directs companies to consider the long-term health effects of ingredient use, including links to cancer, reproductive and developmental harm, etc., instead of just considering acute reactions;
- Add a definition of “vulnerable populations” that should be considered when cosmetic companies substantiate the safety of ingredients;
- Require warning labels for ingredients and products that are not safe – or should be restricted – for use by children and pregnant women; • Ensure coal tar hair dye chemicals are not exempt from safety substantiations conducted by cosmetic companies or by the FDA;
- Require fragrance suppliers to conduct – and share – safety substantiations of the fragrance and flavorings they formulate and sell to cosmetic companies; • Require ingredient disclosure for web-based sales of cosmetic products;
- Ensure the FDA is not restricted from accessing or inspecting the safety substantiation records of cosmetic companies; and
- Create a sliding scale user fee to help pay for FDA expanded roles and responsibilities created by this bill.
State Cosmetics Legislation
Given that federal cosmetics legislation is so outdated, the significance of state legislation is heightened. Individual state laws can influence companies to make and sell products that meet the strictest regulatory requirements not only in the state that mandates it, but also throughout the country. Also, state laws can provide resources and standards that directly benefit consumers through the country. For example, BCPP sponsored legislation in California to require the disclosure of fragrance and flavor ingredients in beauty and personal care products that are toxic to human health or the environment. As of January 2022, cosmetic products that contain toxic or allergenic fragrance and flavor ingredients will be listed on the public Safe Cosmetics database. Learn more