Schakowsky Introduces Legislation to Protect Consumers from Harmful Products in Cosmetics and Personal Care Items

September 12, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chairwoman of Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced H.R. 4296, the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019. This bill is the progressive standard bearer in establishing a robust regulatory framework to ensure the safety of cosmetics and personal care products, and would close major loopholes in federal law that allow companies to use nearly any ingredient in these products—even chemicals that are known to harm human health and the environment like coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, lead acetate, parabens, and phthalates.

Though most Americans assume that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates cosmetics and personal care products the same way it does food and drugs to ensure that these products are safe, cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market today. The $84 billion cosmetics industry uses roughly 12,500 unique chemical ingredients in personal care products, and the vast majority have never been assessed for safety by any publicly accountable body. Toxic cosmetic ingredients enter our bodies and go down the drain every day, polluting waterways and drinking water and compounding doses of hazardous chemicals from air, water, food, and other consumer products.

“I am proud to introduce the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019 today with support from 16 of my colleagues and over 50 of the nation’s leading clean cosmetics companies and most respected NGOs representing women’s health, environmental health and justice, occupational health, and children’s health,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “I first introduced this legislation in the 111th Congress, and have remained committed to passing a progressive, strong regulatory framework for cosmetics and personal care products. My bill will provide cosmetics safety that consumers and workers want and deserve; address the over-exposure to toxic chemicals that communities of color and professional salon workers experience every day; and hold companies accountable for the safety of ingredients in their products. We should restore consumer confidence in the safety of beauty and personal care products by making safe cosmetics the new normal.”

The average American uses roughly 12 personal care products a day, resulting in exposure to an average of 168 unique chemicals. These chemical exposures have been linked to cancer, infertility, miscarriage, poor infant and maternal health outcomes, obesity, asthma, and many other serious health concerns. The number of products used daily is even higher for women of color, who are also disproportionately exposed to more harmful chemicals through personal care products than white women. A 2018 study released by the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners found that the most toxic product it tested was a shampoo called “Just for Me” that is marketed to young black girls and contains carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and other toxicants. The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019 prioritizes environmental justice and would create the first ever federal grant programs to support the development of safer alternatives to harmful chemicals in professional salon products and products marketed to women of color, and to support research on the marketing and sale of harmful cosmetics to women and girls of color.  

For the first time, manufacturers would be required to register with FDA and disclose all the ingredients in their products, including secret fragrance ingredients. New authority would be given to FDA to recall unsafe products and remove them from the market while providing public notice of recalls. The legislation also completely bans toxic ingredients in cosmetics and bans animal testing where a validated, non-animal testing alternative exists. Finally, the bill has been updated for the 116th Congress to specifically protect highly exposed and vulnerable populations, including salon workers and women of color.

16 Representatives joined Congresswoman Schakowsky as original cosponsors of the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019: Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Judy Chu (CA-27), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Doris Matsui (CA-06), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23).

“There is so much to worry about these days when it comes to protecting our families,” said Janet Nudelman, Director of Breast Cancer Prevention Partner’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Asbestos in kids cosmetics, lead in face paint, and hormone disrupting chemicals in fragranced personal care products are just the tip of the iceberg.  The bottom line is, we simply can’t shop our way out of this problem! Rep. Schakowsky’s Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act is the bill that will protect all of us from toxic chemicals in the beauty and personal care products we use every day.”

The bill has been endorsed by a coalition of over 50 NGOs and safe cosmetics companies, including: Breast Cancer Prevention Partners; 100% PURE; Alaska Community Action on Toxics; American Sustainable Business Council; Beleza Organica; Beautycounter; Biossance, Div. of Amyris; Black Women for Wellness; Breast Cancer Action; Breast Cancer Over Time; California Baby; California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative; Campaign for Safe Cosmetics; Clean and Healthy New York; Clean Production Action; Clean Water Action; Coming Clean; Consumer Federation of America; Credo Beauty; CRUNCHI; Earth Mama Organics; Elavo Mundi Solutions; EO Products; Friends of the Earth; HAN Skincare Cosmetics; Innersense Organic Beauty; Intelligent Nutrients; Juice Beauty; Just the Goods; Keep A Breast Foundation; Learning Disabilities Association of America; Learning Disabilities Association of Georgia; Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois; Learning Disabilities Association of Utah; Learning Disabilities Association of Wisconsin; My Sisters’ Natural; NakedPoppy; National Women’s Health Network; OSEA Malibu; OZNaturals; Safer Chemicals Healthy Families; Safer States; Seventh Generation; Sierra Club; SkinOwl; Sprout San Francisco; Sustainable Works; Suzanne’s Organics Salon; Trillium Organics; Turning Green; WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Women’s Voices for the Earth.

The bill text is available here.

A section by section summary of the bill can be found here.