The beauty industry is taking a hit lately from lawmakers and watchdog groups who are scrutinizing claims and practices more carefully. Just like the recent FDA sunscreen regulations, lawmakers are now focusing on a broader Safe Cosmetics Act. And there’s been an epidemic of brands being called out for making questionable claims. (Hello, Brazilian Blowout.)
News broke yesterday that Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorg AG, has to cough up $900,000 to settle US Federal Trade Commission charges. Nivea claimed that its My Silhouette cream, which contains anise and white tea, could actually reduce your body size. The FTC called BS and Nivea now has to pay up. (We can assume that the company is going to be fine, since Kate Middleton was seen buying its moisturizer a few weeks ago.)
Last week, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) filed suit against some 26 brands in California for billing themselves as organic when they weren’t. This category is notoriously murky as far as who can label themselves organic; the FDA and USDA have been pretty hands-off, unlike government bodies in other countries. But California has an Organic Products Act (passed in 2003) that states brands must contain 70% organic ingredients to call themselves organic on the label. Some of the brands targeted by the CEH don’t contain ANY organic ingredients. Some surprising brands that came under fire? Kiss My Face, JASON, Boots, and Nature’s Baby. We are predicting that national government agencies are going to intervene soon to standardize organic products.
Finally, some US congresspeople have introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (there’s a 2010 version that had a few kinks that needed to be fixed). The most important points being addressed:
-Safety assessments of all cosmetics ingredients
-Phasing out ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects, and other health threats (this one is going to be tricky since there’s not consensus about many chemicals)
-Full product disclosure on labeling (there are a lot of loopholes now)
-Reduce animal testing
-The FDA will have recall authority
So pull it together, US beauty industry. Big Brother is watching.