Why I Oppose H.R. 5786 Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

The Compact for Safe Cosmetics (CFSC) is co-founded by Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face, her blog which promotes her book by the same name. Stacy Malkan is the public voice and spokesperson for CFSC, who are fomenting fear that could push the evolution of sensible personal care product manufacturing into the legislative dark ages.  Under the guise of protecting Americans from cancer and other unknown maladies contracted  from using personal care products and cosmetics (currently one of the safest industries), the CFSC exhibits ignorance and short-sightedness to achieve a legislative agenda that if passed will undoubtedly result in grave unintended consequences for small, emerging personal care products companies.

Stacy Malkan may have started out a well-meaning advocate with a sad personal experience, but she and CFSC are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  This has been pointed out to her by those actively engaged in the personal care products industry; those who are aggressively promoting safety and efficacy while moving into the 21st century with sustainable, green ideas for the future.   Admitting that she is not a chemist, nor educated at all in cosmetic ingredient safety or formulation, Stacy Malkan is attracting a host of celebrities and others to the cause, perhaps also well meaning, who have absolutely no depth of scientific knowledge to support what they are advocating.  They primarily depend on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.  This database has been challenged as insufficient, erroneous, out of date and lacking clearly identified peer review by chemists, scientists and formulators in the industry, as reported here.  EWG will call foul (not their scientists, but their lobbyists) that the people who challenge the veracity of their database are employed in the industry.  Wouldn’t we expect that those of us in the industry would be educated experts in our respective positions?  Likewise, in Stacy Malkan’s “Petroleum in Cosmetics” article on Huffington Post, she references a “new CFSC report” which has been thoroughly debunked by respected fragrance chemist Tony Burfield. In that same article, she uses a totally unrelated NY Times article about cancer causing food ingredients to support her Chicken Little agenda regarding products applied topically. It now behooves Huffington Post to allow a comprehensive rebuttal.  And, although I am a great fan of Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now and allowing that she did host a debate on the issue between Stacy Malkan and John Bailey the chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council, her coverage was not equally represented from both sides of the issue. I am hoping she will revisit with some of the colleagues I mention here.

Stacy Malkan and the CFSC are relentlessly bent on pushing for cumbersome and ineffective federal regulation that will surely thwart the emergence of eco-conscious entrepreneurs rising up with progressive ideas for sustainability, safety and efficacy in the personal care products industry.  These are the very people who are already at the forefront of innovation and research to eliminate harsh synthetic chemicals, but who are also realistic about using good science in the process.  Some of these entrepreneurs are unsuspecting company signers on the CFSC who do not know that the CFSC agenda is acting against their own interests because they have not been consulted as partners by those at CFSC, as they should be, especially in the current pursuit that could so gravely affect them.  They are being used as pawns in a deadly game, much to their possible detriment.   CFSC has been parroting the same tired old rhetoric that has failed to move the FDA Globalization act of 2008 out of committee, and more sensible minds prevailed. Their attempt to influence similar legislation at the state level in Colorado. failed as well. You can see my blog post at the time and links to other sensible personal care products companies who rallied to help defeat the Colorado bill.  CFSC is relentlessly at it again in an attempt to achieve their goal of establishing into law the  Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, recently introduced into the House by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.

Among those who will be adversely affected are myriad handmade soap makers, most of whom make soap like your grandmother did. The requirements to register and identify all ingredients (whether potentially toxic or not) would place an undue reporting burden on these small businesses (sometimes one or two-person operations), Even though they would be exempt from registration fees unless their business grossed $1M in annual sales under this new legislation, the cost of research and reporting could be too costly and force them to close their doors. Who wants to see this in our current economy?  This smaller segment of the indie personal care products industry now supports an active Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild, whose president had this to offer regarding the proposed SCA bill.

Colleagues Kristin Fraser Cotte and Lisa M. Rodgers founded the Personal Care Truth website which contains myriad articles and information attesting to the diligence and integrity of companies in the personal care products industry with regard to product safety and scientific clarity and veracity.  You’ll also find lively conversation between at least one lobbyist from EWG and some of my colleagues. The lobbyist is clearly factually outgunned.

You can go to Open Congress to register your support or nonsupport of the current federal bill, as well as read and rate the linked blogposts related to the bill.

Samara Botane is one of many aromatherapy companies who are passionate about safety and efficacy.  Our own website is growing with factual scientific information about essential oils and related personal care product ingredients, and we make ourselves available to anyone who wishes to learn more. In addition to The Winged Seed, which is primarily aimed at our customers, we host and contribute to aromaconnection.org, a group blog which has more scholarly information relative to the  worldwide aromatics industry.  I see the same ethical passion among my indie peers engaged in the small indie personal care products industry.  CFSC has, perhaps inadvertently, created an adversarial relationship, positioning themselves as experts when they are not and refusing to form cooperative relationships with the true experts in the industry and far more shameful,  exploiting the companies who support them by not informing them of the surely damaging consequences of their agenda.  Shame on them.

Guest post by Marcia Elston owner of Samara Botane. This post originally appeared on Marcia’s blog, The Winged Seed

  • http://www.sterlingminerals.com/ Katherine

    Very articulately written Marcia, thank you for putting key points in with excellent scenarios. Unfortunately, I feel as though it falls on the deaf ears of Stacy Malkin and CFSC since they are convinced it is a closed conspiracy between manufacturers to poison our clients, and want to spread the drivel of the “chicken little” scenario without any key science to prove their case.

    They truly believe we need to prove they won't cause harm as Stacy wrote in her last comment to Dene, despite the fact they can't provide any evidence they do cause harm conclusively.

    As Dene inferred before, the precautionary principle has and will be abused at the whim of those that hate a certain chemical, natural or otherwise, and will add it to their arbitrary list of “banned” ingredients….no accounting for common sense or science in this foray.

  • Dene Godfrey



    I totally agree with Katherine (and not just because she agrees with me!). I had just read your blog by following the link you provided on Stacy's blog, and I enjoyed reading the articulate common sense there too!

    Meanwhile, there may be something in the pipeline for Stacy fans . . .watch this space :-)

  • http://twitter.com/Samara_Botane Samara Botane

    Thanks, Katherine. I did comment on Stacy's blog with a link to my latest, which is a bit more cynical, asking for her comments, which I mean sincerely. Knowing, however, that they probably would not be forthcoming. So, I spent the afternoon in the garden today to get back my Zen. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/Samara_Botane Samara Botane

    But Dean . . . it's Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, or have I lost 1/3 of my status as a silly 70's sitcom character. :-) Seriously, thank you, as well. I've been enjoying your contributions, too.

  • http://twitter.com/Samara_Botane Samara Botane

    But Dean . . . it's Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, or have I lost 1/3 of my status as a silly 70's sitcom character. :-) Thank you, as well. I've been enjoying your contributions, too.

  • Dene Godfrey

    Lol – we never got that sitcom in the UK (or I missed it if we did)! I am not sure what I was thinking there, but I will get your name right in future, Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, I promise!

  • Sagescript

    I enjoyed the post Kayla wrote before about how much the EWG execs make. I wonder how much Stacy makes to push this agenda?