There’s nothing more relaxing than mindlessly going into Target or Sephora to grab some new cosmetic products when you want to treat yourself, but have you ever actually thought about who is responsible for actually regulating all of this “stuff” we are putting on our skin? If you’ve ever dipped your toes in some research on what is in our cosmetics, I’m sure you’ve come across certain ingredients that result in numerous health risks. This raises the question, how are cosmetic companies regulated? Who regulates it? Well, to be blunt, they aren't regulated. Let me run it down for you!
Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for all cosmetics that fall under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act (FDCA), which by the way, hasn’t been updated since 1938. Cosmetics that fall under the FDCA are only the ones that are “adulterated” or “misbranded.” The problem is, there is a huge missing piece to this entire “regulating” process. The FDA doesn’t have any way to actually regulate cosmetics. Ingredients in cosmetic products don’t need to go through the FDA for approval before going on the market. Not to mention, federal law doesn’t even require cosmetic companies to register or test their cosmetic products for safety, nor share any safety information with the FDA. I know, you’re probably thinking WTF. So what does the FDA actually restrict? FDA have only restricted 11 cosmetic chemicals for safety reasons, which is very little considering the many ingredients that have been linked to health risks, like cancer.
Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR)
The Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR), is the organization that assesses the safety of cosmetic products. They help determine whether a product can be on the shelf and if a product needs a warning label. Here's the twist - CIR operates under the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), which is the cosmetic industry’s leading trade group. CIR has only deemed 11 chemical ingredients “unsafe” out of the 84,000+ chemicals on the market. So what’s the bottom line? The cosmetics industry oversees itself and shocker, they prioritize themselves over the safety of consumers. Tsk tsk.
Personal Care Products Safety Act
If any of this is going to change, elected officials need to take a stand against the cosmetics industry. Some state officials are trying. For example, California requires all cosmetics companies to provide the California Department of Public Health with a list of all cosmetic products that contain any ingredients linked to cancer. There has also been a federal bill, Personal Care Products Safety Act, which would give FDA the same power over cosmetics that it has over drugs and medical devices. Unfortunately, this has not gained much traction yet so there is still a lot of work and change to be done in the U.S.
Let me remind you all to do your research on what you are applying to your skin. I highly recommend you all to look at the ingredients list on your cosmetics and skincare products before buying and using. Check out this list of toxic-free cosmetics and support toxic-free businesses’, like mine! It’s important to care, and it’s important to educate others on what you’re learning! It's up to us to make a difference.