Federal Cosmetic Safety Law
At a Glance
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.
BCPP’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has worked to pass meaningful, health-protective federal cosmetics legislation for over a decade.
Ineffective and Outdated U.S. Federal Cosmetic Safety Law
The U.S. federal cosmetic safety law in effect is the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA). This law contains just a single page regulating the safety of cosmetics that has not been updated significantly for 80 years. It does virtually nothing to ensure that beauty and personal care products sold in the U.S. are safe.
For over a decade, BCPP’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has worked to secure passage of meaningful, health-protective federal cosmetic safety legislation. We need a law that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (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 children, pregnant women, workers and other vulnerable 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 web-based 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.
Cosmetic Safety Law Reform Efforts
BCPP’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics works with Congress to strengthen federal cosmetic safety regulation. The Campaign currently supports House legislation (H.R. 6903) introduced by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
On September 26, 2018, Representative Schakowsky introduced a cosmetic safety bill that would ban the worst of the worst chemicals from retail and professional salon products and require full fragrance disclosure. The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2018 is the only federal cosmetic safety legislation that would end secret fragrance chemicals.
Strong provisions in the bill would advance the FDA’s ability to improve cosmetic safety and protect Americans’ health by:
- Immediately banning some of the most toxic chemicals in cosmetics as well as directing the FDA to assess 300 cosmetic ingredients for safety within first two years of bill enactment;
- Protecting vulnerable populations including infants, children, pregnant woman and workers by creating a safety standard for cosmetic ingredients based on a reasonable certainty of no harm;
- Requiring companies to register with the FDA, comply with good manufacturing practices, and disclose ingredients to the FDA;
- Providing public access to serious adverse event reports;
- Providing the FDA with clear authority to recall products found to be unsafe or misbranded; and
- Ban the use of animal testing where a validated non-animal testing alternative is available.
Our Stance on “The Personal Care Products Safety Act of 2017”
Meanwhile, BCPP is working to strengthen the federal cosmetic safety legislation introduced in the Senate (S.1113) by Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Collins (R-ME). In May 2017, Senators Feinstein and Collins jointly reintroduced a bill they had first introduced 2 years earlier, “The Personal Care Products Safety Act of 2017.” Currently, this federal cosmetic safety legislation fails to reveal secret ingredients; it does not require full fragrance ingredient disclosure.
Ironically many of the industry giants — Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Unilever, Johnson and Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Revlon, — and their industry association, the Personal Care Products Council, are supporting the Feinstein/Collins bill for the wrong reasons. Their support allows them to respond to the widespread lack of consumer confidence in the safety of their products. It also provides an opportunity to preempt individual states from doing more to regulate the safety of personal care and cosmetic safety.
Another proposed reform came from Senator Hatch in October 2017, “the FDA Cosmetic Safety and Modernization Act.”
In January 2018, BCPP’s Campaign for Safer Cosmetics sent a letter to the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) signed by an impressive 120 businesses, health associations and nonprofit organizations, advocating for health-protective cosmetics safety reform and laying out critical issues to accomplish this. The list of signatories is a testament to the increasing public demand for safer personal care and beauty products, ingredient transparency, particularly in fragrance, and products that are free of cancer causing or other unsafe chemicals.
See a partial list of signatories
Consumer Federation of America, Friends of the Earth, Learning Disabilities Association, Blue Green Alliance, Made Safe, American Sustainable Business Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Seventh Generation, Ecco Bella, Intelligent Nutrients, California Baby, Dr. Bronner’s, Innersense Beauty, Mindful Minerals, Osea
Not a Health-Protective Solution
After reviewing the Feinstein/Collins and Hatch proposals, the bipartisan HELP staff proposed a merged version, called the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2018. Some of the issues raised in our first letter on core cosmetics safety federal legislative priorities were taken up in this discussion draft, but serious weaknesses remained.
It does not significantly change the way the cosmetics industry has self-regulated the safety of beauty and personal care products for the past 80 years. Specifically, it does not require fragrance ingredient disclosure to the FDA or to consumers, it does not make serious adverse health events known to the public, nor does it empower the FDA to suspend production at facilities manufacturing harmful products or recall dangerous products.
As a result, BCPP’s Campaign for Safer Cosmetics sent the HELP Committee Chairman Alexander and ranking Senator Murray feedback on the draft merged proposal in a letter in March of 2018, raising again the health concerns that the merged version fails to address. For a second time, 120 businesses, health associations and non-profit organizations signed the letter, which lays out an 11-point critique of weaknesses in the draft merged proposal.