From Washington, D.C.

Senators Collins, Feinstein introduce bill to strengthen oversight of personal care products

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 9:30am

    U.S. Senators Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act, bipartisan legislation to protect consumer health and strengthen the Food and Drug Administration’s efforts to regulate ingredients in personal care products, according to a news release from Collins’ office. The bill will update 80-year-old federal safety rules for the $60 billion personal care products industry.

    “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 Collins, in the release. “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.”

    “From shampoo and shaving cream to deodorant and make-up, every American comes into contact with personal care products every day,” said Feinstein, in the release. “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.” 

    “Over the past six years, Beautycounter’s mission has brought us to Washington D.C. and state legislatures across the country to build momentum for legislative reform of the beauty industry,” said Gregg Renfrew, Beautycounter’s founder and CEO. “That is why we are again proud to support the Personal Care Products Safety Act, a bill that prioritizes safety while helping businesses thrive. We applaud the continued leadership of Senators Feinstein and Collins to strengthen outdated regulations and protect public safety. Much more needs to be done to fully protect consumers and Beautycounter will fight to ensure that the most health protective law passes Congress.” 

    Consumer and health advocates are concerned about the use and concentration of some ingredients in personal care products. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term exposure to formaldehyde, used in smoothing hair treatments, has been reported to cause a range of negative health effects, including headaches and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure to formaldehyde has been associated with increased risk of cancer.

    Another example is propyl paraben, used as a preservative in a wide range of products. This chemical, which mimics estrogen, may be appropriate to use in small amounts but not in higher concentrations. According to scientific studies, chemicals that mimic estrogen can disrupt the endocrine system and have been linked to a wide range of health effects, including reproductive system disorders.

    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 set forth 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.


    The bill is supported by the following companies:

    • Beautycounter
    • The Estee Lauder Companies (Brands include Estée Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan, Aveda and Michael Kors)
    • The Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild
    • Handmade Cosmetic Alliance
    • Herban Lifestyle
    • Johnson & Johnson (Brands include OGX, Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, JOHNSON’S Baby)
    • L’Oreal (Brands include L’Oréal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani Beauty, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay and Redken)
    • Makes 3 Organics 
    • Milk + Honey
    • Procter & Gamble (Brands include Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Herbal Essences, Secret, Ivory, Olay, Aussie and Old Spice)
    • Revlon (Brands include Revlon, American Crew, Elizabeth Arden, Almay, Mitchum)
    • Silk Therapeutics
    • SkinOwl
    • S.W. Basics
    • Unilever (Brands include Dove, Tresemme, St. Ives, Noxzema, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Vaseline, Degree, Axe and Seventh Generation)


    The bill is supported by the following health and consumer organizations:

    • American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
    • The Beautywell Project
    • Caregiver Action Network
    • Endocrine Society
    • Environmental Working Group
    • March of Dimes
    • National Alliance for Hispanic Health
    • National Psoriasis Foundation
    • National Women’s Health Network