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Regulatory Update: Regulation Time

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: January 8, 2007, from the January 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

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On its site, the Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) states “Because of minimal regulation, products plainly dangerous to your health can be, and are being, sold.” Further, the coalition asserts that the FDA has found that “cosmetic manufacturers lack adequate data on safety tests and generally have refused to disclose the results of these tests.”

“Dangerous” ingredients have been used in cosmetics. However, the industry and regulatory bodies have not hidden the fact—the EU’s Dangerous Substances Directive, for example, is readily available. Classifying an ingredient as dangerous erroneously implies that it cannot be used safely, according to David Steinberg, former president of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.

Illustrating both the power and shortcomings of the Internet, sites such as the aforementioned provide links to other sites that address specific ingredients/products or lend weight to their own argument—however, there are no links from the CPC site or others like it to the FDA, to CTFA, to Colipa, to ICMAD, to the EU or to any other industry source that directly and honestly addresses the issues of product safety.

Shadowboxing with proponents of out-of-date or unbalanced rhetoric does not win consumer confidence. Effective counter arguments constitute action: self regulation and innovative ways to best serve consumers across the scope of cosmetic and personal care products—and these ideas should not be limited to one facet of the industry.

As Carl Geffken, president of Carl Geffken Consultants, notes in the October 2005 issue of GCI magazine, ingredient disclosure is effective and advantageous in building consumer confidence. Geffken endorses the FDA’s Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP)—an online reporting system for cosmetic products on the market for individual consumer purchase—to provide strong ethical credibility to the industry regarding terms such as “safe use.” Colipa, too, has an online system for consumers to obtain ingredient information.