Cosmetic Safety Regulation May Happen (But Don't Hold Your Breath)

Imagine how dumbfounded you’d feel to learn that your 13-year-old daughter’s mascara contains parabens, a class of chemicals banned in Europe, but still legal in the U.S. (Parabens are strongly suspected of being hormone disruptors). Next, visualize your horror when you discover her hair straightener contains formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), which is an ingredient prohibited in Japan, Sweden and to a limited extent in Europe.

It’s real life scenarios like these that have prompted a wide variety of voices, from the New York Times editorial board to Khloe Kardashian, to jump on the bandwagon and declare that the United States’ beauty industry legislation is in desperate need of a makeover. In the twelve years I’ve been a board member of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, I’ve seen this topic surface periodically. I’m cautiously optimistic that this time, federal cosmetic safety legislation will eventually pass.

Yet we need only look back to the 2012 federal ban of BPA in baby bottles to realize that it was concerned parents, not legislation, that fanned the winds of change. REACH, Europe’s chemical regulatory agency, requires manufacturers to submit toxicity data to the European Chemical Agency before a new product can be approved. Our FDA is by no means structured or funded to perform such responsibilities, which means it may take years before the cosmetics sold on store shelves meet the high standard for proof of safety that we deserve.

Let’s cheer on our law makers as they toil to create preventive cosmetic safety legislation. Consumers want to know that the products they put on their bodies are safe, and our government’s intervention is welcomed. In the meantime, do your best to seek out manufacturers and retailers who truly make your health and safety their utmost priority. Sherwood Green Life takes safe beauty seriously and we invite you to become familiar with the banned ingredients on our Forbidden List and learn more about our scientific backgrounds. Clean beauty is not a trend, it’s a necessity for your long-term health.

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