A measure that's pending in Congress would require cosmetics manufacturers to certify that new products are safe before they begin selling them.
What's that, you say? You thought there was already such a law on the books. Sorry, there's not. Under current law, companies do not have to show that cosmetic ingredients are safe before they go on the market.
Since substances we smear on our skin are often quickly absorbed into our bodies, this is no small oversight, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which has started a campaign to support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2013, introduced by Reps. Jan Schwakosky (D-Ill.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
EWG’s 2008 teen body burden study found an average of 13 cosmetics chemicals in the bodies of teenage girls. Among them were phthalates, triclosan, parabens and musks – all of which have been found to alter the hormonal system. Other EWG tests have found the same hormone-disrupting cosmetics ingredients in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. This research clearly documented in utero exposure to these cosmetic ingredients, EWG said.
The law that governs cosmetics has not been updated since its enactment in 1938, EWG noted. Under the current system, the industry mostly regulates itself.
The Safe Cosmetics Act would:
1) require pre-market safety assessment of cosmetics to the gold standard of “reasonability of no harm ” to protect vulnerable populations like children and the elderly;
2) establish a list of ingredients, such as carcinogens and reproductive toxins, that could never be used in cosmetics;
3) authorize the federal Food and Drug Administration to move swiftly to take unsafe products ingredients off the market; and
4) require full disclosure of ingredients used in cosmetics.