Please Oppose the "Safe" Cosmetics Act of 2010

Sep 1, 11:14 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

The natural cosmetics industry is currently in an uproar over HR 5786, the proposed Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.

While most consumers are unquestionably in favor of safe personal care products, this bill contains a number of unnecessary provisions that would decimate our nation's small scale cosmetics manufacturers (many of them women and minority-owned businesses) without any real benefit to consumers.

A few highlights:

- This bill treats a company making 100 bottles of lotion each year the same way it treats a multi-billion dollar, multi-national company making 100 bottles of lotion each second. Unlike similar regulatory bills, there are no exemptions for small business.

- HR 5786 contains unnecessary labeling requirements. Current cosmetics laws already require small companies to list ingredients on labels. HR 5786 expands labeling requirements to include trace elements and phytochemicals found inside those ingredients. For example, a product containing rose essential oil would have to contain a label listing the 300+ known natural phytochemicals present in the oil. Products containing water would have to list all known chemicals and minerals present in the water, which varies according to water supply. Requiring small companies to include such a list on each label is onerous and unnecessary.

- HR 5786 requires small companies to conduct unnecessary scientific testing. Under the bill as drafted, small companies would be required to test all of the products they make, and be in a position to produce data to the federal government about the ingredients, components of ingredients, and also, components that may be produced when known ingredients are combined. Those are impossible (and unnecessary) standards.

- HR 5786 specifically allows all 50 states to pass stricter requirements. Even with the sweeping nature of HR 5786, it specifically states that each state can pass additional laws as it sees fit. This is Congressional permission for each state to pass whatever laws it wants, creating a patchwork quilt of laws that no small company can comply with. If Texas adds labeling or manufacturing requirements that are different from HR 5786, and also different from other states, then no company will be able to sell so much as a quarter-ounce tube of lip balm without first checking to make sure they are not in violation of 51 separate cosmetics laws. No small company can do that (and most large ones can't either).

If you'd like to continue to be able to purchase and enjoy natural skincare and personal care products from cottage industries, local mom-and-pop stores and farmers markets, please click on this link to sign the petition:

Respected aromatherapist and author Robert Tisserand, who is current research chairman for the Alliance of International Aromatherapists, has published a very thorough and chilling analysis of the flaws in this vaguely written bill. Click here to read his thoughtful comments.

My thanks to Donna Maria Coles Johnson of the Indie Beauty Network for her eternal vigilence. In writing this post, I directly copied and adapted portions of her explanation of HR 5786 highlights.

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