House Representatives Propose New Safe Cosmetics Act

Jul 11, 2011   

On June 24, 2011, three members of the House of Representatives announced their support of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (the “Act”), which calls for stricter FDA oversight of cosmetic products. The Act is similar to a previous bill proposed in 2010 but has been modified in response to concerns from small businesses. The main proponents of this proposed legislation are Representatives Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

The Act aims to curb use of harmful ingredients in cosmetics products by establishing stringent labeling requirements and authorizing the FDA to oversee the registration and regulation of cosmetics companies. While the FDA does have regulatory authority over cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients, the FDA does not pre-approve these products or ingredients before they are placed on the market. The FDA only requires premarket approval for color additives. Cosmetic companies may voluntarily enroll in the FDAs Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program, a post-market reporting system, but are not otherwise required to register their products with the FDA. Even though the FDA does not issue premarket approvals for cosmetic products, the FDA may pursue enforcement action against products or firms that violate the law.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics claims that over 12,500 unique chemical ingredients are used in personal care and cosmetics products, many of which have not been required to undergo any type of formal safety assessments. Supporters of the new Act believe the $50 billion industry needs to be held accountable to the public for the products they release into the market. “The growing number of reports of serious health problems arising from the use of dangerous chemicals in personal care products show a need to update our laws and protect men, women, and children from harmful exposure,” said Representative Schakowsky.
The main provisions in the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 are as follows:

  • Post Market Testing: the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to institute procedures for post market testing.
  • Registration of Cosmetic Companies and Registration Fee: Cosmetic companies would be required to register with the FDA and pay a registration fee based on annual gross receipts or sales.
  • Cosmetic and Ingredient Testing and Safety: the FDA would establish a list of prohibited ingredients for use in cosmetic products.
  • Market Restrictions: the FDA would be granted authority to recall products that are misbranded, adulterated, or otherwise fail safety requirements.
  • Mandatory Reporting of Adverse Health Effects: the cosmetic industry would be subject to mandatory reporting of adverse health effects.
  • Worker Issues: products for salon use would be required to indicate any related health hazards.
  • States Rights: states would have authority to set more stringent standards.

“The Safe Cosmetics Act will close a gaping hole in the federal law that allows potentially toxic chemicals to remain in the cosmetic products we use every day,” said Representative Markey. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Americans use an average of 10 personal care products each day, which results in exposure to approximately 126 unique chemicals. The Act seeks to protect the publics health and safety by preventing products with unsafe ingredients from entering the market or granting the FDA authority to order manufacturers to cease production. In light of the growing number of reports about unsafe cosmetic products, supporters of the new legislation hope that this Act will provide the necessary steps to secure the publics safety against cosmetic products on the market.
Fuerst Ittleman will continue to monitor the progress of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011. For more information, please contact us at