Do You Know What’s in Your Cosmetics?

At One Ocean Beauty, clean beauty is not a trend, it's a movement and a matter of health. We are serious about ingredient safety and we were very excited to see this write-up about ingredients in cosmetics in the NY Times, Feb 9, 2019. 

Thousands of chemicals, in billions of dollars worth of products, are being governed by regulations that haven’t been updated in decades.

In a 1988 hearing, Congress took the cosmetics industry to task for a rash of health and safety problems. Cosmetologists were reporting serious respiratory and nervous system damage. At least one woman had been permanently disfigured by flammable hair spray. And according to government data, nearly 1,000 toxic chemicals were lurking in countless other personal care products. Cosmetics companies were not doing enough to ensure that these products were safe, and the Food and Drug Administration did not have enough power to adequately police them.

When Edward Kavanaugh, president of the industry’s leading trade group, disputed those claims, Ron Wyden, then an Oregon congressman, stood firm. The industry’s safety apparatus was “a piecemeal patchwork system in dire need of repair,” Mr. Wyden said. Legislative reform was clearly needed.

That was 30 years ago. To date, no such reforms have been passed.

The American cosmetics industry is a $70 billion-a-year behemoth. The Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors has an annual budget of just $8 million and 27 staff members. The lawsgoverning the office’s authority run just two pages long and have not been updated since 1938, when they were first enacted. Such meager tools leave federal officials nearly powerless to regulate the makeup, lotions, toothpastes, deodorants and other elixirs that often are applied to the most intimate parts of the human body.

Industry leaders are right to note that, on the whole, cosmetic products have a good safety record. But in recent years, a fresh round of health and safety risks have left people wary.

Independent researchers have found asbestos in glittery products marketed to young girls; they’ve linked chemicals in nail polish to serious health problems in nail technicians; and they’ve traced reproductive health issues and mercury poisoning to hair and skin products used by many women of color. At the same time, some 200 people reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit against Wen Hair Care, whose products they say burned their scalps and gave them alopecia; and nearly 12,000 people have sued Johnson & Johnson claiming that asbestos in the company’s baby powder gave them ovarian cancer. (Wen has said it believes that its products are safe; Johnson & Johnson has said its baby powder is safe and has never contained asbestos.)

Owing to a lack of resources or authority, the F.D.A.’s response to these issues has been incomplete.

House and Senate members have introduced several bills in recent years that would give cosmetics regulations a much needed face-lift and could allay a rising tide of consumer anxiety. But so far none of these bills has seen a vote.

Read the full article originally posted in NY Times here: