Cosmetics Legislation & Regulation

Election Day is November 6, and we’re excited to vote and make our voices heard. In honor of one of our favorite democratic traditions, we’re highlighting the history of cosmetics legislation and the new cosmetics bills sparking our excitement.
Three fast facts about cosmetics legislation:
1. The last cosmetics regulation, the U.S. Federal Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act, was passed the same year World War II started (1939)
2. The number of chemicals banned in the U.S. is only 3% as many as the number banned in the European Union (30 compared to 1328)
3. Registration of cosmetics sold to consumers through the FDA is voluntary at most.


The Role of the FDA in regulating ingredients
The FDA is the main body overseeing cosmetics, but the FDA really only regulates misbranded and misleading labels. Cosmetics with harmful ingredients can still enter the market and store shelves. As a result, cosmetics ingredients regulation heavily relies on beauty brands to self-regulate.


Staying committed to transparency
No law forces beauty brands to be transparent. “Fragrance” is a notorious example. Since “fragrance” is a trade secret, companies are allowed to keep their formulas under wraps. Our nonprofit partner Breast Cancer Prevention Partners researched 25 personal care products to identify what was in their fragrances. 80% of the hazardous chemicals found in the products studied could be attributed to the chemicals making up “fragrance.” One easy step towards ingredient transparency is for brands to list their formulas ingredient-by-ingredient.


Three exciting bills in progress
Three bills have been introduced in the past few years specific to chemicals and regulations in the cosmetics industry:
1. Personal Care Products Safety Act (PCPSA) (S. 1014)
2. FDA Cosmetic Safety and Modernization Act (S. 2003)
3. Safe Cosmetics & Personal Care Products Act of 2018 (SCPCPA) (H.R. 6903)


The first two bills were introduced in earlier Congressional sessions, both pushing for mandatory reporting and facilities registration from cosmetics manufacturers. They also grant the FDA power to review ingredients. The difference between the two is that under the PCPSA, the FDA can order mandatory recalls and conduct annual investigations. In addition, the largest cosmetics manufacturers will also be required to financially support FDA cosmetics oversight. Both bills are currently sitting with the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.


The newest bill is the Safe Cosmetics & Personal Care Products Act of 2018, which was introduced this September. Instead of facilities registration, the SCPCPA pushes for establishment registration. The bill also outright bans toxic ingredients and animal testing and requires full fragrance and ingredient transparency. The SCPCPA is currently being referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.


How to take action 
Though these two exciting bills are pending with the federal government, there’s a lot we can do as individuals:
1. Stay informed about toxic ingredients (A huge part of HAN’s mission is to educate and spread awareness on the harmful ingredients in mainstream cosmetics. Follow our IG @hanskincarecosmetics and blog to stay updated)
2. Contact your representatives to voice your support for cosmetics and chemical regulations.
3. Vote with your wallet to support the green beauty industry. Sometimes, the legislation comes after the cultural and industry shift to ensure that future products stay toxin-free.
4. Vet and vote for candidates who prioritize health. Cosmetics regulation isn’t a hot button election issue so it might be hard to know their stance just from a quick run-through of their campaign sites. Ask candidates their positions on chemical regulation at town halls.
Stay informed, stay engaged and happy voting!