As we move towards the end of the 111th Congress, it is clear that H.R. 5786, the “Safe Cosmetic Act of 2010” will die in committee. While its Democratic sponsors may seek to reintroduce the bill in the 112th Congress it is doubtful that the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with its new Republican Chair, Fred Upton (MI), will give this bill any priority given the other more pressing matters facing the country and the fact that the bill is basically anti-business and hence bad for employment.

The “Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010”, which was introduced last July by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), was supported by the Environmental Working Group, as a part of their ongoing campaign against the Cosmetic industry. Schakowsky’s bill, was far more aggressive in its regulatory oversight of cosmetics by the FDA than the prior state counterparts that the EWG introduced in California, with success and in Colorado without success. Rather than require listings and warnings the Schakowsky bill required the wholesale review and preclearance of all cosmetic ingredients, and would have resulted, if passed, with cosmetics being far more stringently regulated than over the counter drug products. As an example of some of the more onerous and ridiculous provisions, the Schakowsky bill would have required ingredient declarations to declare not just ingredients but their components as well, leading to ingredient disclosures that looked like phone books. The proposed Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 went far beyond the registration, manufacturing and fee requirements that had been sought by legislation introduced by Congressman Dingell in the 110th Congress with the Food and Drug Administration’s Globalization Act of 2009.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the proposed Schakowsky bill is that she could find 22 fellow members of Congress to cosponsor the bill. Even a casual review of the legislation should have demonstrated the fallacy of the underlying assumptions and the faulty science that the EWG promotes to support its extreme positions. The track record of the industry is good and does not warrant such a heavy handed approach. Moreover the cost for administration by the government and compliance by the industry would have been staggering and would have led to substantially higher product prices making our companies less competitive on a global level. Many of our members would have been forced out of business. All this for a bill that provided no meaningful margin of additional safety.

While the EWG’s position may be flawed, their attacks on the industry cannot be ignored. They are well funded and have grass roots legislative campaigns going on in all the major states. The EWG has engaged in intense campaigns, disparaging first J&J and then Procter and Gamble. It has also supported class action law suits involving cosmetic products alleging, based upon questionable science, that certain chemicals used in cosmetic products are unsafe and have caused serious illnesses. The EWG maintains a well visited website which purports to rate the safety of a wide variety of cosmetic products, including many of our member’s products, again, on questionable basis.

In an attempt to address and counteract the activities of the Environmental Working Group and their campaign against the industry and specifically their activities to pass further state legislation like the California Safe Cosmetics Act, which serves no purpose other than being an additional compliance expense, ICMAD has been working on developing the capability to obtain early warnings of pending state legislation so that grass root campaigns can be developed to fight further state initiatives by the EWG. Additionally ICMAD’s President and Executive Director have been working with a Washington legislative group and representatives of the Personal Care Product Council to consider endorsing federal legislation that will help strengthen the federal cosmetics program by implementing certain of the currently voluntary programs that the industry has complied with for years therefore eliminating any need for further legislation along the lines proposed by the EWG at either the federal or state level. This legislative initiative would provide for federal preemption thus eliminating the risk of further state statutes like the California Safe Cosmetic Act. Consideration is also being given to supporting legislation that would afford cosmetics greater latitude in making truthful and non misleading product performance claims similar to the latitude that is afforded to dietary supplements.

We believe if legislation is inevitable, the legislation should be efficient in making sure there is only one standard for compliance and that is a federal standard which continues to ensure product safety without risking innovation and growth. Our industry and specifically our members have demonstrated that with entrepreneurial endeavors come innovation and growth which means job creation.


Personal Care Truth was given permission from ICMAD to re-post this news, which can be found here. ICMAD inadvertently posted the wrong version of this news on their site. This post has been updated to reflect the correct version.


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