Here at Chic & Green, we have spoken on many occasions about cosmetics safety regulations (or lack thereof) and the Safe Cosmetics Act (of 2010 and 2011). If you've missed it, this week has been busy on Capitol Hill. Big things are potentially on the horizon and it may not be in our best interests if some members of the Old Boys' Network have their way. Rep. Jan Schakowsky introduced a bill that would make it so the FDA has much more authority to regulate cosmetics. In case you're unaware, cosmetics actually are not regulated in this country. The FDA does not have any authority to recall cosmetic products or regulate their ingredients. The Europen Union, though, has been regulating cosmetics for years and has been able to identify well over 1,000 harmful substances that aren't allowed in formulation.
For the first time in more than 30 years, this would allow the FDA to ban products whose ingredients are linked to cancer and birth defects. Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry is more about making dollars than making sense. Doesn't it make sense to STOP making products that could one day give your son testicular cancer? Doesn't it make sense to STOP making deodroants with ingredients linked to Alzheimer's Disease and breast cancer? Doesn't it make sense to STOP companies from putting lead in lipstick or formaldehyde in hair products and nail polish? How about making it so the mall bath & body shop won't be able to see your family hand wash with toxic triclosan? It sure makes sense to me!
So what's the hold up? Why doesn't the FDA regulate this industry? It's because the cosmetics industry is a HUGE, always growing money maker. When I say money making, we are talking in the neighborhood of $60 billion per year.
So flawed is this system that a company could put rat poison or cyanide in your skin cream and be under no legal obligation to report it to the FDA. The FDA also wouldn't be legally able to pull such a product from the shelves.
Suzy Lotion Maker could be making inadequately preserved cococtions in unsterilized containers with no true knowledge of formulation or skin care and be making steady sales on Etsy. Again, no regulation.
What will it take to cause real change? Mercury has already been found in skin creams and formaldehyde is in Brazilian Blowouts and nail polishes.
The industry is full of big guns who do not want their profits to dip. They don't want to have to spend more money changing formulas and researching safer options when people have been padding their wallets for decade.
On Capitol Hill, it is sad to say that of the invited speakers, only ONE was not an industry rep. The numbers should have been equal to make things fair.
Testifying today was a man named Dr. Gilbert Ross, a man who lost his medical license and spent a year in Federal prison because he defrauded the Medicaid program in New York out of $8 million. His job is basically to testify for the good old boys and earn money for doing so. Read more here. Someone like him could ultimately help determine whether we can have safe cosmetics in the United States.
I am not an alarmist. I tend to err on the side of caution, but like to base my decisions on proven science as well as the latest studies. I am a cautious consumer. I am more middle of the road than many. I realize why preservatives are so necessary in cosmetics and skin care formulas and will spend more money on products with safe ingredients. I'm middle of the road though--I don't believe that my cell phone will kill me and I do believe in vaccinating my children and I'll eat an occasional "bad" food not grown organically if the spirit moves me.
That said, this issue is CRITICAL. We should all be demanding safe products.
What can you do?
You can read more from me about this subject here:
You can go here to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.