Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The FDA and Cosmetics

So, here’s the rundown on how much the FDA cares about regulating cosmetics in the U.S.: they don’t. They have no regulatory powers over the cosmetics industry, unless someone is harmed by a cosmetic product. And even then, lawsuits are, for the most part, civil, as opposed to criminal, because it’s almost impossible to bring a criminal lawsuit against a company. The closest the FDA comes to regulating the cosmetics industry is their Good Manufacturing Practices, which for smaller companies isn’t even required, only suggested. Cosmetics companies are also required to include net quantity of the product on their packaging, as well as the full address for the manufacturer/distributor, if they are not the same company.

Wondering why this post is so short? Well, that’s because I’m giving you the extent of the regulation of the cosmetics industry, as my pharmacy professor, who has been working in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical world for longer than I’ve been alive, presented it to me. While I think that the lack of regulation has allowed a lot of independent makeup companies thrive, I think we’ve also seen that a lot of companies take advantage of the lack of regulations, by selling products that don’t do what they say they do, or contain potentially dangerous ingredients.

However, there is a light shining at the end of the tunnel, as it were. While the U.S. has next to no regulations on cosmetics, many other countries (especially Japan, and France) do have strict regulations on cosmetics, so when a company is selling internationally, it’s more likely that they adhere to more strict cosmetic manufacturing guidelines than are required by the U.S., because even if they are operating out of the U.S., they need to meet those requirements in order to sell to other countries.

And lastly, this one is just because it intrigues me. I will start this with the disclaimer that I have no problems with companies who put the little “cruelty free” bunny on their sites, and in fact, buy from many that so. However, notice that nothing in the above post mentions anything about animal testing for cosmetic products. That’s because animal testing is not common practice for cosmetics. The only industry that requires it (off the top of my head), is the pharmaceutical industry. You might try to fight me on this one, and that’s okay, because I know where I stand in regards to this. Since animal testing is not required, cosmetics companies won’t do it, because it’s incredibly expensive, and time consuming. Not to mention, that France has banned animal testing on products, so if a company wants to sell in France, they must adhere to the French manufacturing laws. And really, why would a cosmetic company spend their money when they don’t have to? That’s why it strikes me as funny now, when I come across sites touting their “cruelty free” banner, as if it differentiates them from the rest of the cosmetics industry, when in fact, it does not. I appreciate the sentiment behind it, if the company owner is against animal testing, but it is not an indicator that a particular company is somehow morally better than another.

That’s all for now. I’m planning out another post on sunscreen and SPF, because I know that when the MMM started up, one of the big topics was about how only the FDA can establish an SPF rating for cosmetic products.

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