U.S. Senators Want Cosmetics Industry to Clean Up Its Act

CC BY 2.0. The Style PA

A proposed amendment to the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act would give the FDA greater control to regulate what goes into skin care products.

The skin is the body’s largest organ, and whatever you rub into your skin gets absorbed into your body. Over the course of a regular day, both women and men rub countless chemicals into their skin. One estimate from the Environmental Working Group pegs that number at 168 chemicals per day for women, 85 for men. On average, women use 12 products per day and teens use 17.

The personal care products industry, however, is highly unregulated, which means that many conventional creams, washes, shampoo, deodorant, perfumes, cosmetics, etc. are full of toxic and hormone-altering ingredients that really should not be anywhere near our bodies, nor should they be used in such great volume or in combination with so many other chemicals.

Two female U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins, have recently introduced an amendment to the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater power to control which ingredients are allowed in skin care products. Up until now, the FDA has had relatively little power when it comes to regulating the cosmetics industry.

According to Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the FDA has “virtually no power to regulate the products we use every day... I can’t understate how little law is now on the books.” Should the amendment be passed, then the FDA will finally have powers that it should have been granted years earlier, and the “current patchwork regulatory approach with varying state bills” will give way to a more coherent strategy with safer, greener results.

ABC News reports: “The 98-page bill includes a system of registering personal care companies, their products and their ingredients, and it would require the FDA to review five [different] chemicals that appear generally in personal care products each year to evaluate their safety.”

The senators have been working with the EWG to draft this amendment. The EWG has for many years been working on increasing consumer awareness about the toxicity of personal care products. It has produced an excellent online database called Skin Deep where customers can research specific products and find out how they rank in terms of safety.

The FDA has not commented on the proposed amendment, but several industry leaders such as Johnson & Johnson and Revlon say they support the bill. Hopefully it will be passed.