Since ingredients in cosmetic products present numerous health risks, you have to wonder: how are cosmetic companies regulated? Well, the unfortunate truth is that they really aren’t.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for cosmetics under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), which has not been updated since 1938. The FDCA is concerned with “adulterated” or “misbranded” products. “Adulterated” products are those that contain any poisonous, deleterious, putrid, or decomposed substances, or those that have been prepared in unsanitary conditions. “Misbranded” products are those that are false or misleading or whose label does not contain the name and place of the manufacturer and the quantity of the contents. All that sounds good, so what’s the problem?
Well, the problem is what the FDA doesn’t have any meaningful way to regulate cosmetics. For instance, ingredients in cosmetic products do not need FDA approval before going on the market. Additionally, federal law does not require cosmetic companies to register or test their products for safety. In fact, the law doesn’t even require cosmetics companies to share any safety information with the FDA. As a result, the FDA has only restricted nine cosmetic chemicals for safety reasons. That’s not many, considering cosmetics manufacturers use at least 88 chemicals that have been linked to cancer. The FDA also lacks authority to mandate a recall, as evidenced by its inability to force Claire’s to recall products that tested positive for asbestos.