Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 Could Clean Up Chemical-Laden Beauty Industry


Lead in lipstick? May be old news. Photo: Jupiterimages

From the toxic heavy metals found in popular cosmetic products to the shocking amounts of formaldehyde found in Brazilian Blowout formula , finding harmful chemicals in cosmetics is no new story. In fact, the existing law hasn't been updated since 1938.

But there's a new bill in the House of Representatives, called the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, that will give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate personal care products, including cosmetics, to ensure they are free of harmful ingredients before they hit the shelves. That is, if it passes.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics breaks it down for us:
Photo: Christopher Robbins/Thinkstock

The cosmetic and personal care product industry is self regulated. But the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 will, according to Representative Ed Markey, a lead sponsor on the bill, "close a gaping hole in the federal law that allows potentially toxic chemicals to remain in the cosmetics products we use every day.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics breaks down the key points in the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011:



  • Phase-out of ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm;

  • Creation of a health-based safety standard that includes protections for children, the elderly, workers and other vulnerable populations;

  • Elimination of labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient disclosure on product labels and company websites, including salon products and the constituent ingredients of fragrance;

  • Worker access to information about unsafe chemicals in personal care products;

  • Required data-sharing to avoid duplicate testing and encourage the development of alternatives to animal testing; and

  • Adequate funding to the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors so it has the resources it needs to provide effective oversight of the cosmetics industry.

The bill has been updated to make it more manageable for smaller companies to comply with it's regulations which, as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics points out, is extremely important considering many small businesses are the ones spearheading the push for safer cosmetics in their products.

The bill will have its first hearing at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where it's three lead sponsors, Representative Ed Markey, Representative Jan Schakowsky, and Representative Tammy Baldwin, are committee members.

Just because it's made it this far doesn't mean it's smooth sailing from here on it. If you want the FDA to regulate the products you pick up on the shelf, here's your chance to help make it a reality: ask your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor the Safe Cosmetics Act.

Like this post? Follow Emma Grady, an award-winning fashion writer, stylist, and the founder and editor of PastFashionFuture.com, on Facebook and Twitter.
More on Not So Safe Cosmetics
Shocking Study Finds Secret Toxic Heavy Metals in Popular Cosmetics
Teens Address Harmful Chemicals in Cosmetics at National Summit
Brazilian Blowout Contains Shocking Amounts of Formaldehyde
Brazilian Blowout Won't Go Down Without a Frizz-Free Fight

Tags: Cosmetics

Best of TreeHugger