The average American woman’s life expectancy is roughly 80 years. That is approximately how long it has been since the United States has passed a major law ensuring the safety of the cosmetic and personal care products we use every single day. Even in the midst of dramatic advances in science and technology, U.S. regulation of the beauty industry has remained largely unchanged since 1938 and lags far behind other countries.
Fortunately, we took an important step forward last week as the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held an oversight hearing to explore current practices in the cosmetic and personal care industry.
As the founder and CEO of a company seeking to create safer skin care and beauty products – not only for women, but also for the entire family – it is clear to me that increased federal scrutiny of potentially harmful ingredients is essential and, frankly, long overdue. In addition, “safer and natural” beauty is the fastest-growing segment of the industry, while mainstream growth in cosmetics and personal care products is stagnant.
The existing regulatory structure, however, is not working for consumers. They want increased transparency about the products they are using on their bodies, and the companies that are creating them.
When formulating products, Beautycounter never chooses approximately 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients. But an unreliable supply chain can sometimes make that hard to do. Stronger federal regulations would not only help to protect public health, but also help businesses by increasing the transparency along our supply chain. More transparency means increased business security and confidence knowing the products we bring to market can meet our higher standards.
Looking forward, we must empower the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review and restrict ingredients linked to possible harm; create a protective safety standard by which the FDA would review ingredients; bring the U.S. regulatory structure up to the international marketplace standard; increase transparency across the supply chain; allow states to take action on harmful ingredients where the federal government has not yet acted; create mandatory recall authority and adverse event reporting; and ensure the FDA has sufficient resources to implement a new regulatory system.
While businesses can sometimes move faster than government, there is an ongoing need for both industry leadership and for the FDA to create a new regulatory structure to enforce stronger standards. Without key improvements to our existing system, many companies simply do not have the tools necessary to make safer products possible.
Consumers deserve better.
We know intimately how complicated this issue is – simply ask any product formulator and you will receive different answers on the best way of doing business. This is one of many reasons why Beautycounter has made education and advocacy a core part of our mission. Today, more than 25,000 women share our message and products all across the country. They are part of a movement, building unprecedented and widespread support for legislative reform.
However, meaningful change in the personal care and cosmetics industry cannot take place in the absence of government leadership. The United States has a lot of catching up to do and Congress must act now to protect the public.
We cannot wait another lifetime to act on these issues. With new laws, we can make the better, safer beauty products American families deserve.
Gregg Renfrew is Founder and CEO of Beautycounter, a leader in the safer skincare and cleaner cosmetics category. The company is based in Santa Monica, Calif.
The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.