As if there weren’t more important things to be concerned about…

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would further regulate cosmetics including handmade soap. The Personal Care Products Safety Act was introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) last month. The bill is currently rattling around in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

The stated purpose of the bill is to, “protect consumers and streamline industry compliance by strengthening the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate the ingredients in personal care products. While the personal care products industry is projected to exceed $60 billion in U.S. revenue this year, federal regulations on these products have not been updated in 75 years.”

Essentially, the Personal Care Products Safety Act is another venture in big government glut that would expand the FDA’s jurisdiction thereby creating more bureaucracy, wasting taxpayer money, and hindering small business growth. More specifically though, the bill would impose fees, and add ridiculous reporting and labeling requirements.

Sen. Feinstein boasts support from just about every big cosmetic industry player including:

  • Personal Care Products Council (a trade association representing more than 600 companies in the industry)
  • Johnson & Johnson (brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products)
  • Procter & Gamble (brands include Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, Secret, Dolce & Gabbana,
  • Gucci, Ivory, Cover Girl, Olay, Sebastian Professional, Vidal Sassoon)
  • Revlon (brands include Revlon, Almay, Mitchum)
  • Estee Lauder (brands include Estée Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan, Aveda, Michael Kors)
  • Unilever (brands include Dove, Tresemme, Lever, St. Ives, Noxzema, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Sunsilk, Vaseline, Degree)
  • L’Oreal (brands include L’Oréal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, The Body Shop, Redken)

But what about the independent cosmetic purveyor?

Home operated cosmetic and soap makers are sounding the alarm. While the legislation has some protections for small businesses, like an exemption for those making less than $100,000 in gross annual revenue, the restrictions would still create significant hurdles for many in the artisan cosmetic community.

The Handmade Cosmetic Alliance which claims to represent over, “300,000 primarily woman-owned small handmade cosmetic” businesses is circulating a petition for those who would be adversely affected by the Personal Care Products Safety Act. They contend their products are made from goods already falling under FDA’s oversight. The petition specifies:

The HCA had several meetings over many months with the sponsor of S. 1014 and presented information to support small business exemptions similar to those the 2011 Food Modernization Safety Act (FSMA). Sadly, a decision was made to use prescription drugs and medical device standards for small handmade cosmetic businesses. This does not make sense.

My products are soaps, lotions and scrubs made largely with food-grade ingredients found in any grocery store and are sold for topical use. Customers do not ingest them, nor are they used to treat medical conditions.

I make handmade cosmetics for a living and they are the safest products on the market. My products comply with FDA labeling requirements and the ingredients are commonly known (i.e, olive oil, oatmeal, sugar, coconut oil, etc).

I cannot afford the user fees proposed in S. 1014. Further, my business has no capacity to do the reporting requirements for each product batch (10-50 units) as it could be several hundred FDA filings per month.

Home made soaps are obviously a consumer risk begging for regulation, right?

Sen. Feinstein also said, “Europe has a robust system, which includes consumer protections like product registration and ingredient reviews. I am pleased to be introducing this bipartisan legislation with Senator Collins that will require FDA to review chemicals used in these products and provide clear guidance on their safety. In addition, the legislation has broad support from companies and consumer groups alike.”

Though, in a publication detailing cosmetic regulations, the Personal Care Counsel disagrees with Sen. Feinsteins’s EU glorification:

It is sometimes suggested that cosmetic products are more strictly regulated in the European Union (EU) than in the United States and that the EU system is, for this reason, a better model than its U.S. counterpart. In fact, however, the approach to regulating cosmetics in the EU and the United States is fundamentally the same.

There seems to be little reason for the legislation other than to expand the FDA’s reach. Though I prefer to shower without the company of the federal government. But that’s just me.

[Featured image a screen grab from this video]

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