Cosmetic regulation
Article by: Perry Romanowski

I read an opinion piece in the New York Times that looked at some proposed cosmetic regulations and pondered “Is Your Lipstick Bad for You?”. The answer is NO but they didn’t bother answering that question. Lipstick_face

But the opinion piece got a few things wrong which I’d like to clear up.

Cosmetic Product Testing

In the very first paragraph the authors make a misleading claim. It’s true that there are specific testing protocols required for drug testing that are not required for cosmetics. But the vast majority of products that people use every day have undergone tests to prove the products are safe and effective. It is illegal to sell unsafe cosmetic products. Large corporations who make most of the products that people use every day spend lots of time and money safety testing products.

Incidentally, this is why big companies like P&G and J&J support legislation like this. They are already doing it and it would create a financial barrier to entry for anyone else who might want to get into the business.

EU cosmetics

The products in the EU are not measurably different than the ones found in the US. This would suggest that their tighter regulations haven’t lead to safer products. The fact that 1300 chemicals are banned in the EU versus 11 in the US is not relevant. How many of those 1300 chemicals were ingredients that formulators would use? None. You could ban another 65,000 chemicals from cosmetics and it wouldn’t make the products more safe since those chemicals aren’t used in formulating anyway.

Again, big companies won’t care if the US bans 1300 chemicals that they aren’t using anyway. More regulation will not improve product safety.

The industry already has a group that reviews the safety of ingredients (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) and they set use limits. Responsible companies already abide by these rules.

Further regulation

Cosmetic products are among the most safe consumer products people can buy. This legislation aims to fix a system that isn’t broken. It will not make products more safe and will increase product cost for consumers.

So, to answer the question posed at the start “Is Increased Cosmetic Regulation Required?” I’d say, NO.  But if it quiets non-science based fear mongering groups like the Environmental Working Group and forces small companies to use proper preservative systems, I say bring it on.


About the Author

Perry Romanowski

Perry has been formulating cosmetic products and inventing solutions to solve consumer problems since the early 1990’s. Additionally, he has written and edited numerous articles and books, taught continuing education classes for industry scientists, and developed successful websites. His latest book is Beginning Cosmetic Chemistry 3rd Edition published by Allured.

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