For the first time since the 1930s, the US government has decided to update the regulations that govern the FDA’s authority over personal care products. The Personal Care Products Safety Act (PCPA) was introduced last spring; this act is kind of a big deal because it’s a bipartisan bill. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking “a bi-pardon-me-what-now?”
Law and politics; bear with me for a moment
Ugh legalese, nothing puts me to sleep faster. Alas, this is a highly relevant and controversial bill and it’s important to start a dialogue about it in our GO NAYKED community. Fortunately, it’s not all that complicated. ‘Bipartisan’ simply means that two major political parties (who rarely agree on anything) have agreed on this bill. A rare and wonderful event indeed! Yet, this bill still has a long way to go before it becomes a law; I’m not sure why, something about the senate or the chamber, voting, yada, yada, politics. More importantly, let’s talk about what will happen if and when it does pass.
The first thing that this act will do is reverse coal tar’s protected status, allowing the FDA to ban hair dyes that contain this toxic ingredient (read more about coal tar in hair dye here). Right now hair dye boxes are only required to show a warning label if they contain coal tar, which is basically useless if you get your hair coloured at a salon. This change would certainly constitute a win for the non-toxic product movement. The PCPA would also require personal care products that are sold on the internet to include the same labelling as products sold in retail stores. This is good news since nearly 40% of personal care products are purchased over the internet. These are changes that GO NAYKED can get behind!
This bill will give the FDA the authority to issue mandatory recalls of unsafe products and companies will be required to report adverse events. But most companies voluntary comply with recalls and adverse event reporting anyways, because they would lose customers if they didn’t. The PCPA will also require the FDA to review the safety of five chemicals that are commonly found in personal care products each year. This is great, but the Cosmetic Ingredient Review is already doing that in consultation with the FDA, so it’s not clear how this will make any difference. In my humble opinion, these supposedly major changes are a step in the right direction; they just aren’t very awe-inspiring.
And the Ugly
This act apparently calls for more stringent labelling; it requires manufacturers to provide contact information on their labels, and warnings on products that are not suitable for vulnerable populations. I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds like an attempt to placate consumers and advocacy groups rather than to evoke real change. What we really need are regulations around the use of terms like ‘organic’ and ‘natural’. At the very least, the government needs to set a standard for the safety of ingredients used in fragrances and flavours, as corporations have been hiding toxins behind these labels for far too long.
Ultimately, our staff at GO-NAYKED are glad the US government is making strides to regulate the personal care product industry. But when it comes to product labelling, we think they can do a whole lot better. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below, and continue to protect yourself by shopping for safe personal care products at our marketplace.