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While natural body-care products represent the fastest growing segment of the cosmetics market, your local pharmacy shelves are still full of products laden with toxic chemicals linked to cancer and reproductive harm. To address this problem, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., introduced the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013, which would give the Food and Drug Administration authority to ensure that all personal care products are free of harmful ingredients. Existing law, which has not been significantly updated since 1938, has loopholes that allow chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other illnesses in products we use on our bodies every day.

“The cosmetics industry has an ugly problem: make-up, shampoos, and lotions are contaminated with toxic chemicals that harm health,” said Janet Nudelman of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Products used every day by men, women, and children contain unsafe chemicals, whether it’s baby shampoos contaminated with cancer-causing formaldehyde, lead in lipsticks or mercury in skin creams. The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 will give the beauty industry a much-needed make-over,” said Nudelman.

The legislation will:

  • Phase out ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and developmental harm
  • Create a health-based safety standard that includes protections for children, the elderly, workers and other vulnerable populations
  • Close labeling loopholes by requiring full ingredient disclosure, including salon products and the constituent ingredients of fragrance, on product labels and company websites
  • Give workers access to information about unsafe chemicals in personal care products
  • Require data sharing to avoid duplicative testing and encourage the development of alternatives to animal testing
  • Provide adequate funding for the FDA Office of Cosmetics and Colors so it has the resources it needs for effective oversight of the cosmetics industry
  • Level the playing field so small businesses can compete fairly

Advocates for consumers and workers support the new legislation. Jamie McConnell, Director of Programs and Policy at Women’s Voices for the Earth said, “This bill provides commonsense protections for not only consumers but those working in the salon industry who are exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis. For example formaldehyde is a chemical that has been banned for use in professional hair straighteners in other countries, but because of our lax laws, is still permitted in the U.S. Passage of this bill is long overdue.”

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