This past week, the senate health committee Chairman, Lamar Alexander, lead the senate hearing talks on, “Exploring Current Practices in Cosmetic Development and Safety.

Lamar Alexander stated, “My hope today is to better understand how cosmetic products are developed, how the safety of those products is reviewed before they go on the market, and how individual ingredients are reviewed to ensure they are safe.”

Senators Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act to protect consumers and help strengthen the FDA”s authority to regulate ingredients in personal care products.

Sponsor: Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA] (Introduced 04/20/2015)

“This bill amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to require cosmetics companies to register their facilities with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and to submit to the FDA cosmetic ingredient statements that include the amounts of a cosmetic’s ingredients. 

  • If the FDA determines that a cosmetic has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences, it may prohibit the cosmetic’s distribution by suspending the cosmetic ingredient statement.

“The FDA must:

  • develop and implement cosmetic manufacturing standards.
  • be allowed to inspect a company’s cosmetic safety records,
  • recall a cosmetic that is likely to cause serious adverse health consequences, and
  • encourage cosmetic safety testing practices that minimize the use of animals.
  • Require companies to provide contact information on their products for consumers and report serious adverse events to the FDA within 15 days, including death, hospitalization and disfigurement.

According to the bill, the FDA would be required to review at least five ingredients per year to determine their safety and appropriate use. The first on the list to be examined are,

  1. Diazolidinyl urea, which is used as a preservative in a wide range of products including deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath and lotion
  2. Lead acetate, which is used as a color additive in hair dyes
  3. Methylene glycol/formaldehyde, which is used in hair treatments
  4. Propyl paraben, which is used as a preservative in a wide range of products including shampoo, conditioner and lotion
  5. Quaternium-15, which is used as a preservative in a wide range of products including shampoo, shaving cream, skin creams and cleansers

Why is this bill important?

  • It is estimated that Americans spend $60 billion on each year.
  • The laws that govern cosmetics have only been slightly changed  since they were put into effect in 1938.
  • Currently the FDA  has little ability to protect people, there is no way to know what the long term effects of some of the ingredients are.
  • The FDA has no authority to review ingredients before they enter the market
  • The FDA has no authority to remove products from the market, even if they cause harm.
  • Some ingredients are thought to be hormone disruptors or cancer causing. They have been pulled off the market in other countries but continue to be sold here in the United States.

Who reviews personal care product ingredients now?

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) is an independent panel created by the Personal Care Products Council. The panel includes both physicians and scientists who review and assess the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics on the market today.

What are some of recent stories that have brought attention to the safety of personal care products?

Wen Hair products

  • FDA safety alert came out in July 2016  after it received over 100 adverse event reports of hair loss and severe damage when Wen products had been used.
  • One of the reports was about an 11 year old who lost her hair after using Wen.
  • WEN’s website does not mention any issues.
  • It would be unusual to lose hair without some sort of reaction first. Any hair loss usually involves damage to the hair follicle which lies beneath the skins surface. The skin would be expected to show irritation. 
  • The exception to this would be chemical depilatory creams such as Nair. The active ingredient in Nair is potassium thioglycolate which dissolves the disulphide bonds between keratin proteins in the hair. Once the bonds are disrupted the hair forms into a gelatin like substance which can be washed away. The hair folicle is left intact, which allows hair to grow again. 

Nail salon workers

  • The NY times published Perfect Nail, Poisened Workers which mentions that women who work in nail salons appear to have a higher rate of children with special needs and cancer. 
  • The article also mentioned “A number of studies have also found that cosmetologists — a group that includes manicurists, as well as hairdressers and makeup artists — have elevated rates of death from Hodgkin’s disease, of low birth-weight babies and of multiple myeloma, a form of cancer.”

What does this mean for small business companies who make personal care products?

  • The proposed bill states that those who gross over $100,000 need not register or pay a fee. 
  • Those small business who gross between 100,000 and 500,000 would have to register but there should be no fee.
  • Those who gross over 500,000 would have to register and pay a fee.
  • The paperwork may be cumbersome for small businesses and the fees are uncertain at this time.
  • There are many home based business owners who are concerned about their businesses because of this proposed bill. These businesses may not employ a lot of people but there are many of these small businesses out there and as a whole make up a fairly big group.

I wanted to thank Donna at the Indie Business Network who alerted me to the senate hearings, I learn a lot.

How can you stay safe when using personal care products?

  • If you have sensitive skin a patch test should be performed before trying a new product. Consider applying the product to the thin skin on the inner area of your arm which is thin and more likely to chow irritation if you have a reaction to one of the ingredients. 
  • California is a leader in researching and labeling products that are thought to be of concern. Take a look at Proposition 65
  • Check out EWG’s site

You can hear the Senate Hearings . I did not know that these hearings were live streamed. It was an interesting talk and worth listening to.

What do you think of the proposed Product Safety Bill?

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