How can the new Safe Cosmetics & Personal Care Products Act H.R. 6903 make clean beauty more inclusive?

Cosmetic safety legislation is taking a huge step forward. We blogged about our favorite cosmetics bill last year, Illinois Representative Jan Schakowsky’s Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2018 (H.R. 6903), and we’re excited to see the bill morph into its newest form – with an environmental justice plank to boot.

On Thursday, September 12, Rep. Schakowsky introduced the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019. Here are the newest updates that we’re happy to see included:

An eye towards environmental justice

Harmful, toxic ingredients are found across the board in cosmetics, personal care and cleaning products, but some groups are affected more than others. For example, African American women and nail salon workers are exposed more frequently to unsafe products than others and bear many of the health effects. Placental extracts containing carcinogenic hormones can be found in hair relaxers and hair dyes marketed towards women of color. Skin lighteners marketed to African-American skin and Asian women also frequently contain hydroquinone, which can be carcinogenic and toxic to the immune system and other organs. Salon workers frequently work with cosmetic products containing formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates and other harmful chemicals for a living.

With these at-risk groups in mind, the updated bill expands its scope of vulnerable populations to add highly exposed populations in addition to pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, workers and those with compromised immune systems.

Research: The heart of a solution

Research and expanding the body of knowledge about how and who cosmetic chemicals affect are the first steps to addressing the products with unsafe ingredients being sold on the market. The updated bill prioritizes FDA safety assessments of cosmetic chemicals of concern for communities harmed by products marketed to them due to race, ethnicity or occupation. In addition, a new grants program would be created to support research on health disparities impacting communities of color. These two provisions will help build on the way in which we understand the effects of harmful ingredients and set the stage for taking action.

End goal: Action and alternatives

The goal with ingredient review and research is to eventually take harmful chemicals off the shelves and promote cleaner, safer ingredients. For ingredients deemed unsafe for use, the updates to the bill charge the FDA with providing public notice of product recalls and reaching out to those affected. That way, harmful products will be off store shelves and off our beauty shelves sooner.

To facilitate the transition to better salon, cosmetics and personal care products, the updated bill also adds a new grants program for safer alternatives. The grants would fund and promote the development of ingredients to replace chemicals of concern specifically targeting cosmetic products used by salon professionals and marketed to women of color. Eventually, clean products will be the norm across the beauty, personal care and salon industries.

To support the bill, contact your Congressional Representative and encourage them to co-sponsor and support H.R. 6903. You can take action by visiting Breast Cancer Prevention Partners here: