Balancing Beauty And Safety: A Facial Challenge On Laws On Cosmetics

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The personal care industry, encompassing beauty products, is undeniably booming. However, said industry is largely unregulated. Cosmetics companies do not have the duty to disclose chemicals or gain approval for products that enter the market every year. The protection of trade secrets also contributes to this lack of disclosure. Thus, the integrity, safety, and quality of the ingredients found in cosmetics should be subject to much skepticism – even until recently, scrutiny remained scant.

A whole literature of reports on potentially harmful chemical ingredients found in beauty and personal care products – makeup, shampoo, skin lotion, nail polish, and those used in salon services, etc. – proves of little impact on pertinent legislation. It has been observed that the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act has 112 pages of standards for food and drugs, but just ONE page for cosmetics, which has not been amended significantly for 75 years already.

Oblivious to the possible dangers to health of personal care products, consumers, comprised largely of women, use these frequently and throughout long periods of their life, often, as part of daily routine. That is, until somebody bothers to check what they are made of.

A classic example is hair spray, a beauty staple for decades, well into the 1970’s. Past versions of hairspray contained vinyl chloride, the propellant in aerosol cans. At the time vinyl chloride was used, it was known to be carcinogenic – there was evidence that manufacturers were aware of its toxic effects before finally removing it from the market. The chemical that replaced vinyl chloride, methylene chloride, was subsequently recalled due to carcinogenic effects.

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In an effort to heed various and increasingly louder campaigns for safe cosmetics, the Personal Care Products Safety Act was introduced in 2015 to give more regulatory teeth to the Food and Drug Administration over cosmetics companies, which will be required to register their facilities and to submit statements on cosmetics ingredients, including the amounts involved in their products.

Regardless of the Personal Care Products Safety Act and its implementation, consumers must never hesitate to question and call for safe personal care products.

Anthony Ifediba is the founder and managing partner of the Alabama-based Ifediba Law Group LLC. Lawsuits involving toxic torts are one of his specializations. To learn more about law, read this blog.


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