5 Reasons Why the Safe Cosmetics Act Makes Sense for Small Business

5 Reasons Why the Safe Cosmetics Act Makes Sense for Small Business

Most people assume the government, in this case the Food and Drug Administration, regulates cosmetics the same way it does food and drugs to ensure they are safe. In reality, cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market today.

Today's introduction of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 should raise questions for all cosmetics and personal care companies -- will the passage of this act benefit or harm our industry, our business, and our customers?

I entered this industry because my family, the founders of Badger, believed in creating healthful products for people that we care about. For 16 years, our family business has been making safe, simple, and affordable products without using questionable ingredients or cutting corners for profit.

From what I have experienced as a small business owner, and after a close reading of the new Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, I believe the Act will be good for small businesses for the following reasons.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 will:

1. Bring the USA in line with international cosmetic standards and regulations.

We sell our products in 26 countries, and other countries have more ingredient and product regulation than we have here in the United States. Under the Safe Cosmetics Act, cosmetics companies will need to register products with the FDA, follow the general guidelines of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and provide safety substantiation for products and ingredients.

These may seem like big challenges for a small company to handle, and yet these challenges are dealt with routinely in most other countries. Countries such as Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia and Russia all require the basic level of cosmetic regulation the Safe Cosmetics Act would require. In addition, this act will allow businesses with under $10 million in annual sales to be exempt from registration fees and very small businesses, less than $2 million in annual sales, will not be required to register their products at all.

2. Open up critical information flow.

This act will require suppliers, including fragrance and flavor manufacturers, to disclose ingredients. Under current regulations, such manufacturers are allowed to conceal this information as "proprietary."

At Badger, our core customers expect our full ingredient disclosure, which we can only provide if our suppliers are fully transparent. Yet, like most companies, we have had frustrating experiences trying to get basic information from suppliers.

This bill will fix that problem by requiring suppliers to disclose what they are selling us, and it will also enable us and the public to access to the extensive safety assessments of cosmetic ingredients that have been conducted by suppliers and other companies. These provisions will increase the flow of information so that everyone -- manufacturers and consumers -- can make the most informed choices.

3. Level the playing field.

Current industry standards allow companies to play by different rules. Some companies fully disclose their ingredients and others do not. I am constantly frustrated to see products on the shelves that are curiously not listing key ingredients such as emulsifiers or preservatives. This is because nobody is watching and enforcing ingredient labeling rules.

Many companies are also hiding ingredients under the label of "fragrance," which can mean the product contains chemicals of concern that are not disclosed. Product tests by environmental groups have found that about three-quarters of fragrances contain phthalates, a chemical that many of our customers prefer to avoid. This new act will help ensure everyone is playing by the same rules and consumers have the full information to make the best choices.

4. Require disclosure of ingredient contamination.

It is common for products, even those labeled as "pure," "natural," or "for sensitive skin," to contain ingredients contaminated with toxic chemicals (such as 1,4 dioxane, formaldehyde, etc.). These contamination problems are well known to the industry, and yet there are no safety standards set by FDA and no requirements to disclose the presence of these contaminants to consumers. This act will clarify how products must list these ingredient contaminants on their labels. This supports businesses that are forward thinking and businesses that put the safety of their customers before all else.

5. Raise the bar and bolster consumer confidence.

Recent scandals, such as the discovery of high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde in popular keratin hair straighteners, mercury in skin lighteners and 1,4 dioxane in baby shampoo, have shaken consumer confidence in the safety of U.S. made cosmetics.

According to a March 2011 Deloitte survey on consumer preferences, more than two-thirds of consumers polled said they were more concerned about the personal care products they use today than they were five years ago, and nearly 60 percent identified safety as their number one concern when considering personal care products.

Both in the marketplace and within our own company, we are seeing consumer demand for safer alternatives skyrocket as a result. Badger believes that all cosmetics manufacturers should be producing products that are unquestionably safe. The passage of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 will support businesses that are already making safe products and will help all manufacturers to raise their standards of safety and transparency -- two of the top things on the minds of today's savvy and empowered consumers.

And, it's the right thing to do.

There may be some growing pains as we transition into these higher standards, but the end result will be worth the efforts. All people deserve to have safe products and as an industry it is our responsibility to support safety in cosmetics in any way we can.

Photo CC-licensed by dreamglowpumpkinkat210.