Last year, Americans spent an estimated $70 billion on shampoo, baby lotion, mascara, lipstick and countless other products.  As it stands, The Food and Drug Administration lacks the power to review products before they go to market and manufacturers aren’t required to list all ingredients on packaging.

In the summer of 2013 the FDA and beauty industry representatives entered into negotiations to overhaul old regulations established in 1938 with the hope of creating a detailed framework for legislation that would grant the agency greater authority while allowing manufacturers to meet consumer demand.  Unfortunately, last year the negotiations began to fall apart.

Advocates have spent the last five years fighting for stricter regulations leading to the first Congressional hearing on cosmetics safety in over 30 years. Still, updated legislation remains in limbo, leaving many questions unanswered.

While cosmetics safety has not been on the top of Congress’s agenda. This year may see a stronger interest in getting a bill passed before the end of the Obama Administration. A draft bill is being developed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in collaboration with industry members and CEOs. With more and more consumers and retailers are becoming aware of the issues surrounding cosmetics safety, we’re going to continue to see change in the form of retailer standards and shoppers’ buying habits, regardless of the outcome at the federal level.

Although advocates continue to see some one-off successes with the passage of the Sunscreen Innovation Act and the introduction of microbeads legislation, America still lags behind Europe from a legislative standpoint, which has broader reach and regulation over cosmetics and personal care products.  However, with a new Congress comes new faces and a new opportunities.

1938 is the online magazine blog for Well-Kept Beauty, formally entitled Primer.

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