Politicians are putting pressure on the FDA to review and potentially revise existing regulations that govern the cosmetic industry to make sure products are safe. (Photo: Getty Images)
There’s been a growing movement to embrace natural skin care and question the chemicals in our makeup, in the name of better health and wellness. Capitol Hill is finally joining in — namely, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who co-sponsored the bipartisan Personal Care Products Safety Act, which is aimed at tightening up the oversight of cosmetics and their ingredients.
Now, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., wants a full review of all existing regulations that govern the cosmetic industry.
In a letter to the Energy and Commerce Committee, Pallone notes that there haven’t been substantial changes to policies regarding cosmetics since 1938, when the FDA was first charged with overseeing cosmetic safety. “This committee, as the committee with jurisdiction over cosmetic regulation, should examine the existing framework and determine what improvements are necessary,” he says, according to The Hill newspaper. “We owe it to American consumers to do all we can to ensure we have a robust cosmetic regulatory system that ensures the safety of the cosmetic products that Americans purchase and use each day.”
Pallone says that current laws require manufacturers to test and determine the safety of all cosmetics that come to market. These manufacturers do not need to register with the FDA, so there’s little current data on who exactly is creating and marketing products in the U.S. Manufacturers are also not required to let the FDA know of consumer-reported side effects occurring with the use of their products.
Lastly, Pallone states the FDA doesn’t have the capacity to recall or remove a product that has created a serious health concern among consumers. With the cosmetic industry raking in hundreds of billions of dollars per year, projected to reach $675 billion in revenue by 2020, it’s an important time for a review to ensure consumer safety.
So how safe are products currently being sold nationwide? Should you toss your makeup drawer? You are probably OK, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. Zeichner explains that over-the-counter cosmeceutical skin care products available in the United States are tested regularly and “generally considered safe.”
That said, it’s smart to know when you should be more vigilant about cosmetic safety, and which products may cause irritation. “The biggest issue arises when products are being illegally sold in the U.S., or are being ordered on the Internet,” Zeichner tells Yahoo Beauty. “Particularly worrisome products are skin-lightening creams that contain corticosteroids and mercury, and steroids that can lead to thinning skin. Mercury can cause not only skin irritation but also general health problems.”
In general, try to purchase goods manufactured in the United States, and steer clear of these five suspicious ingredients.
If you experience irritation, redness, peeling, or other adverse reactions to skin care products, you may have sensitive skin or skin-related allergies. “Especially common are allergies to fragrances and preservatives commonly used in personal care products,” Zeichner says. “If you have sensitive skin or skin allergies, it is important to be evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist to determine what you are specifically allergic to so you can avoid those ingredients.”