In Exclusives, Insight

The 80-year-old federal safety rules for the $60 billion personal care products industry may finally get an update. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act, a bill to protect consumer health and strengthen the Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to regulate ingredients in personal care products.

“From shampoo and shaving cream to deodorant and make-up, every American comes into contact with personal care products every day,” said Senator Feinstein. “Families trust that these products are safe, but unfortunately many ingredients have never been independently evaluated. Our bipartisan legislation, which has the support of numerous companies and consumer advocacy groups, would modernize FDA’s oversight authority and give consumers confidence that everyday personal care products won’t harm their health.”

“Americans use a variety of personal care products daily, and they should be able to know whether the products that they are applying to their hair or skin are safe,” said Senator Collins.“By updating FDA oversight of the ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products for the first time in nearly 80 years, our legislation will help increase safety for consumers, protect small businesses, and provide regulatory certainty for manufacturers.”

The Personal Care Products Safety Act bill would require the FDA to evaluate a minimum of five ingredients found in personal care products per year to determine their safety and appropriate use. The review process in the bill would provide companies with clear guidance about whether ingredients should continue to be used and whether consumer warnings are needed. For example, a chemical may be deemed inappropriate for use in children’s products or only appropriate for use by professionals.

The first set of chemicals for review includes:

  • Diazolidinyl urea, which is used as a preservative in a wide range of products including deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, bubble bath, and lotion.
  • Diethyl phthalate, which is used as a binding agent in some fragrances and cosmetics.
  • Methylene glycol / formaldehyde, which is used in hair treatments.
  • Propyl paraben, which is used as a preservative in a wide range of products including shampoo, conditioner, and lotion.
  • Quaternium-15, which is used as a preservative in a wide range of products including shampoo, shaving cream, skin creams, and cleansers.

The Personal Care Products Safety Act would also:

  • Provide FDA the authority to recall personal care products that threaten consumer safety.
  • Provide FDA the authority to require labeling of products that include ingredients not appropriate for children and those that should be professionally administered.
  • Require complete label information to be posted online, including ingredients and product warnings.
  • Require companies to provide contact information on their products for consumers and report serious adverse events to FDA within 15 days, including death, hospitalization, and disfigurement. Health effects that could have resulted in hospitalization without early intervention would also be required to be reported.
  • Require manufacturers to register annually with FDA and provide the agency with information on the ingredients used in their personal care products.
  • Direct FDA to issue regulations on Good Manufacturing Practices for personal care products.

To fund these new oversight activities, the bill would authorize FDA to collect user fees from personal care product manufacturers similar to what is done for medications and medical devices.

Photo: Joakim Honkasalo via Unsplash

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