Sometimes it’s hard to understand who does what in this country. In so many organizations, laws, and agencies one can be lost. It requires hours of research to understand who regulates cosmetics and to what extent. Many of us think that if any product is unsafe it will never be on the market in the first place. Here is my research on FDA.
FDA regulates cosmetics under Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). FD&C Act regulates products such as perfumes, lipsticks, moisturizers, polish, facial makeup, shampoos, hair colors, deodorants etc… One exception is a soap, which is regulated by Consumer Product Safety Commission that does not require ingredients to be listed on the product. Other cleansing products even if displaying “soap” on a packaging are synthetic detergents and not true soaps; therefore, they are under FDA regulations.
What FDA do?
- FDA requires to indicate the common use of the product.
- It requires companies to indicate their name and the address.
- FDA requires to display the list of ingredients on the product.
- The ingredients have to be displayed with the net quantity of content. Companies have to list the active (drug) ingredients first and then the other (cosmetic) ingredients from highest weight/measure/numerical count to the lowest. This is very important information for you, for example if you bought a product that lists parabens first and then the cocoa butter it means that the product has much more toxic chemicals than benefits in it.
- FDA also requires companies to display any material facts and warnings. For example, flammable cosmetics can be dangerous so they need a warning statement.
What FDA does not do?
- FDA does not pre-approve any product that goes on a market. Therefore, cosmetics are the least regulated products.
- Cosmetics are not tested for safety. FDA does not warn the public if the product or ingredients are dangerous. The agency pretty much assumes that the ingredients are innocent until proven guilty. However, using so many products at the same time, it is really hard to prove that certain product caused an illness overtime.
To sum it up, FDA requires ingredients and the net quantity to be listed on the products. The agency does not test or warn us about toxics in the products. It is up to us to make an educated decision. So, next time you shop for cosmetics don’t ignore the label.
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