Toxic Chemicals and Cosmetics
Personal care is big business in the US. The $50 billion
beauty industry produces such products as shampoo, deodorant, makeup,
moisturizer, diaper cream, perfume, and toothpaste, and these products
literally touch almost every American every day. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the average
American uses about 10 personal care products each day, and is exposed to more
than 100 unique chemicals from those products.
Some of the toxic or potentially toxic chemicals that have
been found in cosmetics include formaldehyde (in nail polish, hair
straightening formulations, and other products), lead and other heavy metals
(in lipstick, eyeliner, and other products), hydroquinone (in skin lighteners),
and 1,4-dioxane (as a contaminant in shampoo and other sudsing products).
These products are regulated by the Food and Drug
Administration under a 70-year-old statute that does not assess ingredients for
safety before allowing them on the market. It is legal to formulate cosmetics
with chemicals linked to cancer, infertility, birth defects, endocrine
disruption, and other adverse health effects. An industry-funded panel, the
Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel, issues non-binding recommendations on the
safety of cosmetic ingredients, and assesses the safety of only a fraction of
the ingredients used in beauty products.
An overhaul of cosmetics regulation is long overdue.
The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 would effectively
address the shortcomings of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of 1938, and
protect Americans from toxic chemicals in beauty products. Provisions of the Safe Cosmetics
Act of 2011 include:
- Phase-out of ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and
- Creation of a health-based safety standard that includes
protections for children, the elderly, workers and other vulnerable
- Elimination of labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient
disclosure on product labels and company websites, including salon
products and the constituent ingredients of fragrance;
- Worker access to information about unsafe chemicals in personal
- Required data-sharing to avoid duplicative testing and
encourage the development of alternatives to animal testing; and
- Adequate funding to the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors so
it has the resources it needs to provide effective oversight of the cosmetics
Let your Representative know how you feel about this legislation.
The Campaign for
The Story of
EWG’s Skin Deep
Page Updated July 13, 2011