Press Releases

Federal consumer safety law has not been updated in 83 years

            Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act, legislation that would update the 83-year-old law governing the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of these products. The bill will help protect consumer health and strengthen the FDA’s authority to ensure the safety of personal care products and their ingredients.

            “We use personal care products every day, but most Americans don’t know the government lacks authority to ensure the safety of products we put on our bodies and hair,” said Senator Feinstein. “What’s particularly striking is that when the FDA finds an unsafe product, it cannot force a company to stop selling it. Our bipartisan bill will finally bring the FDA into the 21st century by giving it authority to ensure personal care products are safe.”

            “Americans use a variety of cosmetics and personal care products daily, including lotions, shampoos and makeup, and they should be able to trust that these products are safe to apply to their hair or skin,” said Senator Collins. “By strengthening FDA oversight of the ingredients in personal care products for the first time in more than 80 years, our legislation would help protect the health of consumers, support small businesses, and provide regulatory certainty for manufacturers.”

            The FDA and product safety experts have noted concerns about the use and concentration of certain ingredients in personal care products that haven’t been independently reviewed for health effects. For example, according to the FDA, most hair smoothing and straightening products release formaldehyde gas, a known carcinogen. Formaldehyde exposure can cause short- and long-term health problems.

            A recent study led by researchers at the University of Notre Dame found that more than half of 231 cosmetic products tested contained PFAS, a group of harmful chemicals. PFAS has been linked to immune system damage, harm to child development and the reproductive system and increased risk of certain cancers.

            The Personal Care Products Safety Act will empower the FDA to review product ingredients and provide companies with clear guidance, including whether ingredients should continue to be used and if consumer warnings are necessary. It also requires the FDA to issue recalls on products likely to cause significant harm if companies refuse to do so voluntarily – an authority the FDA currently lacks.

            The Personal Care Products Safety Act would also:

  • Require companies to register with FDA, disclose the ingredients they use and attest that they have safety records for their products.
  • Require companies to report serious adverse events (such as infections that require medical treatment) to FDA within 15 days and an annual summary of all reported adverse health events (including less serious reactions, such as rashes).
  • Direct FDA to issue a ban on products that intentionally contain the harmful chemical PFAS (perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances).
  • Require FDA to issue regulations outlining good manufacturing practices for personal care products. 
  • Require FDA to provide technical assistance and additional flexibility for smaller businesses to comply with the law.
  • Require websites selling cosmetics to include full labeling information, including ingredients and warnings.
  • Give FDA the authority to seize counterfeit cosmetic products and seek civil penalties for violations.
  • Allow state product safety laws in effect prior to the date of enactment to remain in effect.

            The bill also authorizes FDA to collect user fees from manufacturers to fund oversight activities, similar to what is done for medications and medical devices.

            “No one has fought harder to protect us from chemicals in cosmetics than Senator Feinstein and Senator Collins,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “Once again, they are forcing Congress to face the fact that the chemicals we spray on weeds and insects are more carefully regulated than the chemicals we rub on our bodies every day. After 83 years, it’s time for Congress to act.”

            “Health and safety is on the minds of consumers more than ever,” said Gregg Renfrew, Beautycounter’s Founder and CEO. “There is support coast to coast for Congress to pass laws that create more transparency and protect consumers. Now is the time to put public health first, and Beautycounter is proud to again support the Personal Care Products Safety Act.”

            “Children are not little adults. As they grow, children are uniquely vulnerable to harmful chemical exposures and it is especially concerning that these exposures can come from every day personal care products, like baby shampoo. The Personal Care Products Safety Act represents a critical step toward ensuring personal care products are safe for children by implementing needed reforms to expand FDA’s authority. The American Academy of Pediatrics thanks Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) for their bipartisan leadership on this bill and urges lawmakers to immediately advance it,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP.

            “Most people’s daily routines include using lotions, shampoos and various cosmetics that they expect are safe. The Personal Care Products Safety Act would begin to provide consumers with confidence that those products are safe by evaluating potential health impacts of select ingredients and their appropriate use across a wide range of items,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

            “Many consumers are unaware that cosmetics and personal care products are almost completely unregulated and consequently contain many chemicals known to be harmful and banned in other countries. Even short-term exposure to harmful chemicals in skin and hair products can lead to cancer or reproductive disorders. Worse, when pregnant women are exposed, these chemicals can harm the developing brain,” said Heather Patisaul, Ph.D., a member of the Endocrine Society’s Endocrine-disrupting Chemicals Advisory Group. “I strongly support this effort to reduce the public health threat posed by EDCs by better regulating ingredients in personal care products.”

            “We are proud to support the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which calls for an important update to cosmetics regulation in the U.S. Burt’s Bees has long advocated for clear standards and definitions of natural, so we’re excited to see the bill require that FDA define ‘natural’ in cosmetics law. We believe this will help build trust and transparency in the fastest growing segment of the personal care category. This, along with other safeguards of consumer safety and understanding, make this an important step forward for the personal care industry and consumers,” said Matt Gregory, VP and General Manager of Burt’s Bees.

            “The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild (HSCG), the international non-profit trade association representing small cosmetic businesses, supports The Personal Care Products Safety Act. The HSCG thanks Senators Feinstein and Collins for their efforts to update cosmetic laws in the United States while recognizing the unique needs of the small and micro businesses of the industry,” said Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild Executive Director Leigh O'Donnell.

            The Personal Care Products Safety Act is supported by:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
  • Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs
  • Au Naturale Cosmetics
  • Beautycounter
  • Burt’s Bees Company
  • Endocrine Society
  • Environmental Working Group
  • Johnson & Johnson (7 brands including Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products)
  • L’Oréal USA (30 brands including L’Oréal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, Redken)
  • March of Dimes
  • National Alliance for Hispanic Health
  • National Women’s Health Network
  • Procter & Gamble (12 brands including Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Secret, Ivory, Olay, Aussie, Old Spice)
  • Revlon (5 brands including Revlon, American Crew, Elizabeth Arden, Almay, Mitchum)
  • Society for Women’s Health Research 
  • The Clorox Company
  • The Estee Lauder Companies (over 25 brands including Estée Lauder, Clinique, Origins, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Aveda)
  • The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild
  • Unilever (15 brands including Dove, TRESemmé, St. Ives, Love Beauty and Planet, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Vaseline, Degree, Axe, Seventh Generation)