For decades, proponents of natural cosmetics and beauty products have warned that chemicals found in conventional cosmetics have the potential to cause serious health problems. Harmful toxins affect people of every age and gender, and many lotions, deodorants, shampoos, hair dyes and other grooming products can contain potentially dangerous chemicals. The cosmetics industry has gone largely unchecked due to the inability of the FDA and other entities to provide strict regulation of cosmetic ingredients. In answer to this dilemma, The Safe Cosmetic Act of 2010 was introduced in July the U.S. House of Representatives, by Janice Schakowsky (D-IL).
Questions have been raised whether an act of Congress is necessary. On the surface, it does appear that the cosmetics industry has been largely self regulating. In response to consumer reaction, they have added what they refer to as green makeup to their product lines. Formulas to these products do include natural ingredients. As such, their labels use words like "natural" and "organic" in the description. A careful look at the label reveals that more often than not, harmful chemicals are still active within the product. While some companies are making a sincere effort to offer green beauty products to their customer base, it has been also said that this is merely an attempt to appear concerned to avoid government regulation.
The recent act is one of the first attempted American government interventions in 70 years regarding cosmetic industry standards. Canada maintains an official list of restricted cosmetic ingredients. Cosmetic companies are required to fully disclose ingredients, which is something that the makers of green cosmetics have done for years. Yet even with this safeguard, Canadian consumers are warned to be careful of certain under-tested products.
In the United States, the proposed legislation is geared at changing the way cosmetics are manufactured and advertised. Previous law did not prohibit the use of chemicals with proven links to serious disease and birth defects in children. The disconnect between old legislation and the current state of the cosmetic industry has led to consequences such as probable carcinogenic chemicals in baby shampoo and lead in lipstick. The legislation speaks to this issue by including health-based safety standards along with special protection for children and the elderly, among other concerns. It prohibits any ingredients that have been linked to cancer or birth defects. Other regulations include the requirement that companies provide full disclosure on product labels and company websites.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many cosmetics manufacturers have opposed the proposed Safe Cosmetic Act of 2010, arguing that it is unnecessary and would harm their business. Even some small producers have complained, including Sweet Leaf Essentials, which argues, "While, like most legislation, this sounds like something we should all get behind, the truth is it is poorly written and current laws are sufficient to keep us safe... This Act is so strict that NATURAL products being make with say thyme, or rosemary would be on the FDA list as carcinogenic. This is not the propose of this Act, but due to its poor wording, unintentional consequences like this will be the outcome, and ultimately put many small businesses out of business."
Still, the proposed Safe Cosmetic Act of 2010 is good news for the millions of American who would be affected by it (track progress here). Companies who make green cosmetics should benefit with more governmental backing. In addition, scientists will have the financial and legislative support to develop cosmetic formulas that do not pose serious health risks to consumers. Considering what many years of no regulation has produced, it is clear that government intervention is needed to get this industry on track. Hopefully, the end result will be a healthier, more attractive country overall.
This article was written by the staff of www.GreatGreenIdea.com, a site dedicated to teaching about great green ideas and healthy green living. The goal of the site is to help the public on the quest for "Guilt Free Green Living."
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