Following a historical hearing last March before the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee on the safety of cosmetic products, there are now three legislative proposals circulating to amend federal rules governing cosmetic products in the United States.

Three legislative bills

The original one (“The Safe Cosmetics Act,” H.R. 2359) was introduced last year by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). This text targets substances known to have carcinogenic effects and to be toxic for the reproduction. It is supported by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and several other consumer, public health, medical and environmental advocacy groups.

At the end of March, Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and John Dingell (D-MI) introduced the “Cosmetics Safety Enhancement Act” (H.R. 4262). Among other proposals, the bill suggests granting recall authority to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Eventually, a third legislative proposal, the “Cosmetic Safety Amendments Act of 2012,” H.R. 4395, was introduced by Representative Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and is supported by the professional organisations representing U.S. beauty and personal care companies - namely the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors Association (ICMAD), the International Fragrance Association North America (IFRA), Professional Beauty Association (PBA), Direct Selling Association (DSA), and the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), all members of the Safe Cosmetics Alliance.

Lezlee Westine, PCPC's president

Lezlee Westine, PCPC’s president

FDA regulation of cosmetics has protected the public for decades, and this landmark legislation will enhance protections for millions of American consumers,” said Lezlee Westine, the Council’s president and chief executive officer, about the latter bill. “Cosmetics companies recognize the need for a modern regulatory process that keeps pace with product innovation, as well as the demand for transparency.

Representative Lance’s bill calls for increased reporting and transparency by the industry. The legislation aims to create formal processes for the FDA to review ingredients for safety, set safety levels for trace impurities, create national uniformity for cosmetics regulations, review all safety determinations made by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel and establish industry-wide “Good Manufacturing Practices.”

Industry support

We look forward to working with Congressman Lance on this legislation,” added Westine. “We also look forward to working on a bipartisan basis with Congressmen Pallone and Dingell on legislation that updates FDA regulation of cosmetics and enhances consumer protections.

Similar comments from ICMAD President and CEO Pam Busiek, who considers “this bill is a major step forward in increasing transparency at the FDA.

Oppositely, Janet Nudelman from the Breast Cancer Fund, said that “essential public health protections could be set back another 70 years if industry gets away with writing its own laws that put industry profits over public health.” Nudelman stressed the need for a reform that includes: phasing out cosmetic ingredients linked to cancer, and reproductive or developmental toxicity; a safety standard that protects workers, babies and other vulnerable populations; full disclosure of ingredients and FDA authority to recall dangerous products from the market - all of which are elements of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (H.R. 2359).