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article imageCosmetics sold in the U.S. receive very little FDA regulation

By Karen Graham     Jun 27, 2017 in Health
Anyone in the United States can come up with a homemade cosmetic, whip it up in the kitchen, package and sell it — and it's perfectly legal. No testing, paperwork or registration is required. And this has become a big health problem.
A study published in the prestigious journal JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday, June 26, found that adverse health events related to cosmetic and personal care products more than doubled from 2015 to 2016 in the United States.
In the US, “you can develop a cream tonight, and sell it tomorrow,” says Shuai Xu, a dermatologist at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, reports Quartz. “Overall, cosmetics are very safe. But over the last 10 years, we’ve had controversy after controversy—mercury in skin lightening creams, for example, or Brazilian blowouts,” Xu said, referring to a hair-straightening treatment that releases toxic formaldehyde when heated.
So the big question is this - What's going on with the increase in adverse health events in cosmetic products and why isn't the FDA or somebody protecting consumers? The American consumer believes that if a product is sold over-the-counter in a retail store, it must be safe because we are under the assumption that all products must pass some sort of safety standards.
According to the study, that is not entirely true. Cosmetics, which fall under the watchful eye of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are actually, very lightly regulated. Yes, there are some labeling requirements, but cosmetic companies can avoid listing all their ingredients with the claim of them being "trade secrets."
And here is something that the study revealed that's even worse - Manufacturers don't have to report adverse reactions or health complaints about their products to the FDA. The only way the FDA would find out about a serious health issue from using a cosmetic would be to get a complaint from a consumer, and not too many people think about calling the FDA first when their hair falls out or they break out in a rash from using a new eyeliner.
A makeup brush
A makeup brush
Photo by annia316
In 2014, the FDA opened an investigation into WEN by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioner products after receiving 127 complaints that it caused hair loss. hair breakage, balding, itching, and rash. What the FDA didn't know, until they investigated, was that Chaz Dean Inc. and parent company Guthy Renker LLC had received 21,000 complaints about the products.
Sadly, even though the FDA investigation is still going on, none of the WEN conditioning products have been pulled from the market because the FDA has no authority to recall cosmetics. And by the way, a manufacturer doesn't need the FDA's approval to put a product on the market.
In an update to this story, this journalist heard from Guthy-Renker on Thursday, June 29. In an email statement, the company writes: "The WEN family cares deeply about our customers, and we have a long track record of going above and beyond current industry standards. We welcome legislative and regulatory efforts to further enhance consumer safety across the cosmetic products industry. However, there is no credible evidence to support the false and misleading claim that WEN products cause hair loss. Millions of bottles have been sold over the last 16 years, which is a testament to the quality of this product."
WTVR-Richmond reports that in an email, the FDA stated that: "The law does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information, including consumer complaints, with the FDA. FDA’s data on cosmetic adverse events are limited because reporting is voluntary. The FDA may take regulatory action against cosmetics on the market that do not comply with the laws we enforce if we have reliable information indicating that a cosmetic is adulterated or misbranded.”
Yes  there have been adverse health problems with baby shampoos.
Yes, there have been adverse health problems with baby shampoos.
Not a whole lot is being done at the federal level, and especially now, with proposed tax cuts to many agencies. However, in 2015, California’s Senator Diane Feinstein introduced a bill called the Personal Care Products Safety Act (PCPSA) with bipartisan support that is inching its way through the legislative machinery.
Basically, the bill says that manufacturers would be required to submit complaints to the FDA, provide a complete list of ingredients, and it would allow the FDA to order recalls and that's not so hard, is it?
The legislation is supported by large manufacturers like Johnson and Johnson and Revlon, however, small and fly-by-night companies are totally against the legislation, arguing it would hurt them more than the large companies. But if the bill were to save a life or prevent hundreds of people from losing their hair, it would be worth the effort.
More about Fda, Cosmetics, Health problems, hair care products, Testing
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