Can you make cosmetic products safer?

California is one of the world leaders in their propensity to regulate cosmetics. They started with their own VOC regulations and also put together Prop 65 which requires manufacturers to disclose and put a warning label on any product that contains a compound on the Prop 65 list. safer-consumer-products-summit

So, it’s not surprising that the Golden State is the site for the 5th Annual Safer Consumer Products Summit. It’s being held at the end of October and you can find out more information about it here.

Anyway, in this report about the event they discuss the idea of featuring discussions about making cosmetics more safe. Which makes me wonder…

How do you make a safe product more safe?

Removing potentially harmful ingredients

Does the strategy of removing ingredients that are thought to be harmful work? I don’t know. It could, or maybe not. When you remove an ingredient you replace it with something else. What is the safety profile of the new ingredient? Typically, these new ingredients have much less testing history behind them and are arguably more dangerous.

I know there are more instances of product contamination because companies like Badger Sunscreen are avoiding proven preservatives like parabens and formaldehyde donors. Apparently, marketing positions trump product safety.

It would be great if we could step back and create some measurable way to determine the safety of cosmetics. If there was a way to quantify safety then you really could make products more safe.

But I’ve never seen anyone attempt to quantify the danger of cosmetics. And if you make regulatory changes but there is no way to measure their effect, have you really done anything to improve the safety of cosmetic products?

With things like cars it is easy. You can measure number of deaths in car crashes. Then anything you can do to reduce that number increases the safety of cars.

What similar thing could be done with cosmetics? I have no idea. I wonder if they will discuss this at the 5th Annual Safer Consumer Products Summit.

Probably not, but it would be interesting.

August 8, 2020
Chemists Corner

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