The recent buzz around Wen Hair Care — and the Food and Drug Administration’s warning that its cleansing conditioners have generated thousands of consumer complaints about rashes and bald spots — has refocused attention on the potential dangers of beauty products. It’s also reignited debate around proposed legislation that could tighten up FDA oversight of such products and their ingredients.
Chief among those to be scrutinized are five suspect chemicals, including formaldehyde and lead, commonly found in cosmetics — from CoverGirl, Neutrogena, Vaseline, Almay, Coppertone, Aveeno, and many more major brands, available at pretty much any major retailer across the country.
The proposed bipartisan bill, cosponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and currently awaiting committee hearings, would amend the FDA’s Cosmetic Act — last updated, unbelievably, in 1938, and basically leaving the entire makeup and skin-products industry unregulated.
Feinstein got behind the bill after learning about the EU’s banning of more than 1,300 chemicals from personal care products — and how the United States, by comparison, has banned only 11 ingredients, including mercury and chloroform. The new law would give the FDA the authority to test cosmetics’ ingredients and issue mandatory recalls for products found to have toxins. It would also require a company to report any known serious adverse health effects to the FDA within 15 days.
Smaller companies, including Wen and Mary Kay, are fighting the measure, noted a recent New York Times article, while bigger players, such as Johnson & Johnson and Revlon, support the bill. And while that might seem ironic, considering the ingredients used by major brands, they are the companies that can afford to pay the reported $20 million in proposed annual fees that would help cover the cost of testing five different ingredients each year.