Cosmetic Regulations Lacking

 Recently, there have been several legislative proposals urging the need for more regulatory authority over cosmetics.  Aren’t cosmetics strictly regulated by the FDA?  Turns out the answer is no and that the cosmetic industry is largely self regulated.  Cosmetics are covered by the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.  The FDA’s legal authority over cosmetics is very different from other products, such as food and drugs, which the FDA strictly regulates.  Cosmetics aren’t subject to FDA approval prior to going to market, they aren’t regularly tested by the FDA, the FDA has no recall authority, and the manufacturers may use almost any ingredient in them that they believe is safe. 

The cosmetic industry is essentially a self regulated industry.  The cosmetic firms themselves are responsible for the manufacture of safe products.  Concerns over self regulation and increasing concerns over cosmetic health and allergy issues have brought up discussions for increasing regulatory authority.  Legislation has been passed at the State level to help address the lack of Federal regulation.  The State of California passed the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, Washington State passed the Children’s Safe Products Act in 2008, and Minnesota passed the Toxic Free Kids Act in 2009.  All of these acts specifically target chemicals of concern in cosmetics.

The real answer is a national standard and the granting of increased regulations and authority to the FDA.  Federal efforts are now being proposed to do exactly that.  The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, the Cosmetics Safety Enhancement Act of 2012, the President’s Proposal for Cosmetics Reform, and the Cosmetics Safety Amendments Act of 2012 are separate proposals that increase the FDA’s authority and increase regulation of cosmetics.  All of these proposals seem to be struggling to get out of committee and are unlikely to pass.  To find out more about why increased regulation is important, please look at the following which shows how little authority the FDA has over cosmetics at: