So, it’s not every day that I hear Congress and makeup in the same phrase. And, by phrase, I mean legislation. Other than thinking some Congresswomen need more or need less of the stuff I don’t really think of it – at all. But something came across my desk the other day that I find rather absurd. The “Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010″—sponsored by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) –the bill claims to regulate personal care products – makeup, soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, baby shampoo – really anything you use to keep yourself looking, feeling and smelling fresh.
My first thought was – huh? Why is Congress worried about my makeup? My second thought was stay away from my stuff as well as didn’t the industry ask for regulations way back when and the government said no? Hey – I know these things – I LOVE makeup, and in full disclosure, have worked in the industry. And, the simple answer is yes; the personal care industry asked for FDA regulations in the 70’s but was turned down because the government didn’t have the time or money to waste testing lipstick. So the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel was setup by the industry (in conjunction with the FDA and Consumer Federation of America) to assess the safety of cosmetic ingredients and then publish its findings in peer-reviewed journals and discuss its findings publicly. Not bad for an industry the government told to take a hike.
One thing to note, though, while CIR itself doesn’t test cosmetics/products, all companies – large and small – are required (by law) to test their products and have studies that show they are safe before said product is put in front of the consumer. Now, if the law already requires testing and positive proof that something is safe, why should the government waste it’s time requiring re-testing of everything? Don’t they have better things to do? Like fix the economy? Or education? Just a thought.
Another thing to note – this applies to new products as well as products we’ve used for years. I mean, do you think I would REALLY use baby shampoo that I thought was unsafe? The baby shampoo I have for Baby R has been around since my Grandma was a baby and she’s fine, my Dad’s fine and I’m fine. And I have no reservation whatsoever that the products I use, and my family use, are safe. I think we all deserve a little more credit when it comes to protecting our family and ourselves. The products targeted in the legislation have long been trusted by their customers, and I’m no different. I don’t appreciate Congress telling me what I should and should not be trusting. That’s my decision, not theirs.
After reading through some of the legislation, one thing that stuck out even more than the makeup testing bit was how much small businesses would suffer. The fact of the matter is this bill would place an undue burden on a small business by mandating that they provide a bunch of information that doesn’t do anything. If one tiny little thing changed for a company – say, the lavender shipper changes to another lavender shipper, that business would have to notify the government and have everything re-verified before that lavender product could go back on the market. What small business (or big business for that matter) has the ability to do that? With the time it takes the government to do things these days (healthcare anyone?), who knows when the small business would hear back from them.
So what does that mean for us as customers? Your favorite soap maker at the local market? Gone. The lady with the yummy smelling hand lotion at that cute shop you love? Gone. All because Congress decided to get involved with our daily “get ready for the day, shampoo the hair, put some makeup on (if the kids aren’t pulling you in another direction), and rub some lotion on your hands” routine that, up until the other day, I took for granted. I have a specific routine with certain products that I rarely deviate from, and if Congress gets involved and I can’t do that because my product isn’t available, or has become too expensive or I can’t even find a new lipstick to wear this Christmas season I will be beyond pissed. Not to mention extremely disappointed that my Aunt won’t be able to find her favorite soap from Casco Soap Company and I won’t see my favorite organic table at Eastern Market.