A New Senate Bill Targets the Safety of Personal Care Products — Finally

Marc Jacobs Spring 2019; Image: Imaxtree

Do you know what you’re putting on your face? With beauty brands launching new products seemingly daily, it’s vital to know what chemicals our skin is being exposed to every time we swipe on a serum, lipstick or deodorant. It’s been an astonishing 80 years since Congress passed any legislation to manage the beauty industry, but a new bill has been introduced that will impose transparency on the ingredients used in skin care and cosmetics.

In the bipartisan Personal Care Products Safety Act, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Susan Collins of Maine, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have the authority to demand transparency from the largely unregulated $60 billion personal care industry. The bill will allow government inspections of the facilities in which products are made and will require companies to release a detailed list of ingredients in their products. Most importantly, the bill includes a protocol of product recall if any ingredients are found to be harmful.

“From shampoo and shaving cream to deodorant and makeup, every American comes into contact with personal care products every day,” Feinstein said in a statement. “Families trust that these products are safe, but unfortunately many ingredients have never been independently evaluated.” Feinstein adds that the bill will bring a new level of “consumers confidence that everyday personal care products won’t harm their health.”

The bill will seek to evaluate the safety of five ingredients a year, starting with propyl paraben, a preservative used in a wide range of products, methylene glycol (formaldehyde), used in hair treatments, and three other common chemicals.

Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Johnson & Johnson, Beautycounter, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Revlon are just a few of the personal care companies supporting the bill. “We want safer products to be accessible to all Americans, regardless of socioeconomic background. This [bill] would require companies to do the right thing on behalf of the American consumer without the consumer having to self-advocate all the time. For most, they don’t even know what they don’t know because no one is telling them—the entire beauty industry has been built on secrets,” said Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO of Beautycounter. 

[ Next: 17 Ingredients Causing Your Angry, Inflamed Skin ]