The agency charged with oversight of cosmetics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has no authority to require pre-market safety assessment as it does with drugs, so cosmetics are among the least-regulated products on the market. The FDA does not review – nor does it have the authority to regulate – what goes into cosmetics before they are marketed for salon use and consumer use. In fact, 89 percent of all ingredients in cosmetics have not been evaluated for safety by any publicly accountable institution.
“FDA's legal authority over cosmetics is different from other products regulated by the agency .... Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives.”
The emerging evidence on the body burdens of chemicals in the American people, as well as the new science on how small exposures to these chemicals can add up to harm, suggest that there is no health-based rationale for the difference in regulatory powers between the different FDA divisions.
According to FDA, "[a] change in FDA's statutory authority over cosmetics would require Congress to change the law."
To discourage congressional legislation, the cosmetics industry trade group (then the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, now the Personal Care Products Council), created a system of voluntary self-regulation in 1976 through the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel.
Voluntary self-regulation of the cosmetics industry in the United States is not working. Consumers deserve a government that protects them from unsafe chemical exposures in the cosmetics they use every day.
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