I just saw that the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) revamped their cosmetics information website. This is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to know what the US government has to say about cosmetics. Here are some of the highlights.
FDA Cosmetic Regulation
Many people erroneously claim that the cosmetic industry is not regulated, but in the United States this responsibility falls on the FDA. Their specific responsibilities are outlined on this page. Basically, the FDA takes a hands-off approach with the mandate that cosmetic manufacturers are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products. They don’t tell you specifically what testing proves safety so that’s where things get a little fuzzy.
FDA and cosmetic claims
There is a section outlining what the FDA considers appropriate cosmetic labeling and claims. The requirements are not too stringent but they do say things like you can’t put false or misleading information on the label. Required information on the label includes the following
1. Identity statement
2. Accurate quantity
3. Name & place of business
4. Directions for use
5. Appropriate warning statements
6. Ingredient list
Definition of Cosmetic
If you ever wonder what makes something a cosmetic or not, just check out this page on the new FDA cosmetic website. It comes right out of the FD&C Act sec. 201(i). This definition covers pretty much any kind of personal care product you can imagine (except soap). Other products that are not technically cosmetics are products classified as OTC drugs. This would be things like dandruff shampoos & sunscreens.
More FDA Cosmetic Information
The FDA has published about some specific cosmetic topics which they presumably were asked to do. This includes subjects like Mad Cow Disease, 1,4-dioxane and other potential cosmetic contaminants. They also have written about villified compounds such as parabens, phthalates, and color additives. Finally, there is some specific product information regarding hair color, makeup, etc.
The FDA takes a lot of heat from consumer protection groups but they do try and provide the public important information about cosmetics. As a cosmetic scientist, you should be familiar with all of the information on their new website. It will make you a better formulator if you do.
Have any questions about cosmetic formulas? Leave a question in the comments section below.