It may be surprising to hear that the cosmetic and personal care product industry is almost completely self-regulated. That means that these companies put products on the shelf that have never been proven safe or effective.
Even if a product proves to be harmful, the authorities don’t act until they’ve received enough complaints from those already affected. While these products are not as dangerous as medications, a complete lack of regulation has produced serious consequences and put the public at risk.
The FDA Is Receiving More Complaints Than Ever Before
For example, in 2013 the FDA began investigating a line of hair care products called WEN after receiving 127 complaints about the product. The investigation found the company, Chaz Dean, Inc. had received 21,000 complaints of hair loss and scalp damage and had done nothing in response. While the company settled a class-action lawsuit for $26.3 million, they claim the product is safe and continue to sell it. The FDA claims their investigation of WEN products is ongoing, but the public is still at risk if it is proven to be dangerous.
Likely due to the WEN ordeal, the FDA is receiving more reports than ever before, with a 300% increase in 2016. The most commonly reported products are those for hair care, skin care, and tattoos, while the products with a higher number of serious reports are those for baby cleanliness, personal cleanliness, hair care, and hair coloring products. The FDA relies on these reports to regulate products, and they clearly don’t receive them from the manufacturers. Help protect yourself and others by reporting adverse reactions to the FDA with their adverse event reporting system at fda.gov.
Consumers Should Be Concerned About Safety of Cosmetics and Personal Care Products
The New York Times (8/7, Brody, Subscription Publication, 14.49M) reports consumers should be concerned about the safety of cosmetic and personal care products in the US because of “a lack of federal regulations.” The FDA encourages “consumers to submit reports to it directly" and has created a website to collect reports. The article notes that Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have proposed a bill “that would require manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products to submit a list of all ingredients and reports of adverse events to the F.D.A. and give the agency authority to order product recalls.”