The Compact for Safe Cosmetics (CFSC) is co-founded by Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face, her blog which promotes her book by the same name. Stacy Malkan is the public voice and spokesperson for CFSC, who are fomenting fear that could push the evolution of sensible personal care product manufacturing into the legislative dark ages.  Under the guise of protecting Americans from cancer and other unknown maladies contracted  from using personal care products and cosmetics (currently one of the safest industries), the CFSC exhibits ignorance and short-sightedness to achieve a legislative agenda that if passed will undoubtedly result in grave unintended consequences for small, emerging personal care products companies. 

Stacy Malkan may have started out a well-meaning advocate with a sad personal experience, but she and CFSC are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  This has been pointed out to her by those actively engaged in the personal care products industry; those who are aggressively promoting safety and efficacy while moving into the 21st century with sustainable, green ideas for the future.   Admitting that she is not a chemist, nor educated at all in cosmetic ingredient safety or formulation, Stacy Malkan is attracting a host of celebrities and others to the cause, perhaps also well meaning, who have absolutely no depth of scientific knowledge to support what they are advocating.  They primarily depend on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.  This database has been challenged as insufficient, erroneous, out of date and lacking clearly identified peer review by chemists, scientists and formulators in the industry, as reported here.  EWG will call foul (not their scientists, but their lobbyists) that the people who challenge the veracity of their database are employed in the industry.  Wouldn’t we expect that those of us in the industry would be educated experts in our respective positions?  Likewise, in Stacy Malkan’s “Petroleum in Cosmetics” article on Huffington Post, she references a “new CFSC report” which has been thoroughly debunked by respected fragrance chemist Tony Burfield. In that same article, she uses a totally unrelated NY Times article about cancer causing food ingredients to support her Chicken Little agenda regarding products applied topically. It now behooves Huffington Post to allow a comprehensive rebuttal.  And, although I am a great fan of Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now and allowing that she did host a debate on the issue between Stacy Malkan and John Bailey the chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council, her coverage was not equally represented from both sides of the issue. I am hoping she will revisit with some of the colleagues I mention here.

Stacy Malkan and the CFSC are relentlessly bent on pushing for cumbersome and ineffective federal regulation that will surely thwart the emergence of eco-conscious entrepreneurs rising up with progressive ideas for sustainability, safety and efficacy in the personal care products industry.  These are the very people who are already at the forefront of innovation and research to eliminate harsh synthetic chemicals, but who are also realistic about using good science in the process.  Some of these entrepreneurs are unsuspecting company signers on the CFSC who do not know that the CFSC agenda is acting against their own interests because they have not been consulted as partners by those at CFSC, as they should be, especially in the current pursuit that could so gravely affect them.  They are being used as pawns in a deadly game, much to their possible detriment.   CFSC has been parroting the same tired old rhetoric that has failed to move the FDA Globalization act of 2008 out of committee, and more sensible minds prevailed. Their attempt to influence similar legislation at the state level in Colorado. failed as well. You can see my blog post at the time and links to other sensible personal care products companies who rallied to help defeat the Colorado bill.  CFSC is relentlessly at it again in an attempt to achieve their goal of establishing into law the  Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, recently introduced into the House by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.

Among those who will be adversely affected are myriad handmade soap makers, most of whom make soap like your grandmother did. The requirements to register and identify all ingredients (whether potentially toxic or not) would place an undue reporting burden on these small businesses (sometimes one or two-person operations), Even though they would be exempt from registration fees unless their business grossed $1M in annual sales under this new legislation, the cost of research and reporting could be too costly and force them to close their doors. Who wants to see this in our current economy?  This smaller segment of the indie personal care products industry now supports an active Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild, whose president had this to offer regarding the proposed SCA bill.

Colleagues Kristin Fraser Cotte and Lisa M. Rodgers founded the Personal Care Truth website which contains myriad articles and information attesting to the diligence and integrity of companies in the personal care products industry with regard to product safety and scientific clarity and veracity.  You’ll also find lively conversation between at least one lobbyist from EWG and some of my colleagues. The lobbyist is clearly factually outgunned.

You can go to Open Congress to register your support or nonsupport of the current federal bill, as well as read and rate the linked blogposts related to the bill.

Samara Botane is one of many aromatherapy companies who are passionate about safety and efficacy.  Our own website is growing with factual scientific information about essential oils and related personal care product ingredients, and we make ourselves available to anyone who wishes to learn more. In addition to this blog, which is primarily aimed at our customers, we host and contribute to aromaconnection.org, a group blog which has more scholarly information relative to the  worldwide aromatics industry.  I see the same ethical passion among my indie peers engaged in the small indie personal care products industry.  CFSC has, perhaps inadvertently, created an adversarial relationship, positioning themselves as experts when they are not and refusing to form cooperative relationships with the true experts in the industry and far more shameful,  exploiting the companies who support them by not informing them of the surely damaging consequences of their agenda.  Shame on them.   

  14 Responses to “Why I Oppose H.R. 5786 Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010”

  1. Marcia,
    Great post. This is a convoluted issue for many, and you do a wonderful job explaining and linking to resources and evidence to support your points. I too am a big fan of Democracy Now and was disappointed with the coverage of this issue. There’s a lot more going on in this proposed legislation than wanting to make sure our cosmetics are safe; it’s imperative that the small companies making safe, natural, and innovative personal care products can continue to do so.
    Kristin

  2. i feel that we should put our focus on more inportant issues. we have web now and can always do our own research on things. we do not need one more law that considers us either too stupid or lazy to handle things on our own. one bad apply does not spoil the bunch.

  3. This post doesn’t really detail anything bad about this bill for industry.

    You mention the “burden” this will have on small companies due to registration fees–but small companies are actually exempt from registration fees.

    When a company sells a product that is applied topically or orally to the human body, I believe this warrants full ingredient disclosure to the federal government—especially if the fee for doing so can be avoided by smaller companies.

    Dietary supplements, food, and beverage products are already seeing identical changes in legislation. It is well overdue.

  4. Hi Debra,
    Thanks for your comment. I agree with you regarding full ingredient disclosure, and we have been providing complete ingredient listing on our labels for years already. There is also a voluntary FDA registration program, which we agree with also. You will see that I do mention the exemption from the registration fees; however, small indie companies will not be exempted from the reporting requirement itself, which when looking at every chemical constituent would become extremely time-consuming and burdensome.

  5. Yes, I’m sure it would be time-consuming.

    Are there any other elements of the bill, besides the registration issue, that are undesirable in your view?

  6. Not only will the registration and reporting requirements be cumbersome enough that they will put many small cosmetic companies out of business, the testing requirements, and the costs thereof, will deal the death blow to most all…..remember CPSIA?

    Great article, Marcia!

  7. Does anyone have a handle on exactly what testing procedures will be necessary for all companies involved? The bill does not state any particulars regarding this, just that the Secretary will announce this within a year or so after the bill has been passed. As it stands now, I feel that documentation provided by the manufacturers of raw materials should be sufficient enough without placing those burdens on the small cosmetic companies themselves. Exhorbitant testing expenses could certainly drive small businesses out of business.

  8. Hi Debra,

    What you may not understand is that this bill will effectively require cosmetic manufacturers to list every detectable chemical constituent in each ingredient. This is absurd. Many natural products are composed of many hundreds of individual compounds. Use ten natural ingredients and all of the sudden your ingredient listing has 2,000 ingredients listed.

    On top of this, the cost of testing each ingredients for it’s constituents is very high and would put many manufacturers out of business. Compounding this problem further, each batch of the same ingredient would have to be tested, because the constituents that make up an ingredient vary by growing region, season, weather condition, etc. The food and and supplement industry is not subject to this kind of regulation.

  9. Hi Debra,
    I believe you are missing the whole “Time is Money” aspect of life. As a business owner there are only so many hours in a day. When you must spend all your time filling our paperwork rather then making and selling products, what is the point? The large corporations can hire a full time employee to do this job, we small companies are not able to do this.

    There is also the fact that the labels would be a useless mishmash of potential ingredients rather then useful information to consumers about what is actually in the products. My customers depend on me to inform them of what is in my products, so they can make informed decisions, but by labeling every ingredients trace ingredients they will have no clue what is in my products or others that is either working for their skin or not.

    We small companies will also be forced to buy larger and more costly packaging to fit all these unnecessary ingredient breakdowns and potential ingredients on the label, leading to not only more expense for us and the consumer, but a lot more waste and energy used to make and dispose of this excess packaging. My company has attempted to reduce wasted packaging by not placing our jars in boxes, yet this labeling requirement would never fit on our products as they are now.

    There is also the fact that by having the companies at the top of the supply chain paying large fees, we small companies will be the ones paying the increased prices to get our ingredients. You can’t fine the top tier and not expect the bottom tier to pay for it.

    There is also the aspect of the bill that encourages states to create their own additions to the laws as they choose, meaning any company selling across state lines would be forced to change their packaging, labeling or formulations based on each state. This is the very reason the EU has banded together to create the EU regulations for the whole EU rather than Germany requiring X and France requiring Y while Sweden requires Z. This bill is said to be modeled after the EU, but in fact is a major step in the reverse direction.

    I am also opposed to the idea that regulations are being based on faulty and incomplete science. The lobbyists pushing for this bill have based their claims on scientific studies that have been repeatedly proven untrue. They are so adamant about those studies being scientific proof but refuse to even look at the other studies. True scientific progress can only be achieved when one is able to look at all sides of the story. To ignore opposing scientific results does not make good science it increases ignorance.

    Do you, Debra, want to be able to buy personal care products from small companies who have based their entire business on providing safe products, or do you want to be left with only products from large multinational companies that don’t listen to or care what you want? Small cosmetics businesses everywhere are planning their exit strategies due to the introduction of this bill. We cannot possibly meet the requirements of the extended testing and reporting when we are made up of only a few people. We cannot simply skip one advertisement in one month of Vogue to pay a full time salary to an employee to fill out the registration forms each and every year.

    My company spent hours filling out the CFSC database requirements and many hours updating and maintaining them in an attempt to keep my consumers apprised of what we make. All I got from that was a knife in the back when they pushed for legislation that would shut my business down.

    My products are not unsafe, I use them on myself and my family. I research every ingredient, but I cannot be expected to change my labels every time I get a new batch of an ingredient in, on the off chance that some trace element has changed. One so minute in the finished products as to make up .000000000001% of the finished product or less. This does not make a product safer, it does not make me change my initial formulation, all it does is make it so I have to throw out hundreds of dollars of labels and spend hours reformatting new labels and getting new labels printed or even all new packaging if my ingredients are printed on boxes or jars. I would also then be forced to change the ingredients listings on my websites and would this mean I must refile with the government too? God help us.

    I could go on and on about other bad aspects of this bill, but I have already spent way too much time on this, and time is money. I must get back to making and selling my products, so I can feed my family and pay my employees. Since I only have about a year to achieve my American Dream if this bill goes into effect and shuts me down.

  10. CPSIA, that Vanessa mentions is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which came about after it was discovered there was lead in childrens toys coming out of China. The unintended consequences in passing that Act put hundreds of indie toy shops out of business, many of whom had an awareness of this and were already making or providing safe toys. More throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    Hal and Lauren make a very good point regarding labeling requirements. Can you imagine the required size of labels on small essential oil dropper bottles to accommodate this, especially blends – they would obscure the entire bottle in yards of label.
    For those of you not aware, there is a very good petition at http://opposesca.com. Read the petition, it contains even more good reasons to oppose this bill – and sign it please.We’ve gathered over 1350 signatures in just two days! And write/call/email your Congressional Representative. It will take a large citizen/consumer movement to turn the tide.
    And, yes, we already have plenty of documentation required to identify product ingredients, INCI, CAS, MSDS, GCMS . . . etc.

  11. [...] of Samara Botane also provides various details here. on the complexities of who’s really pushing this law, why they may not really have our best [...]

  12. Hello everyone,

    Let me upfront confess that I have not read through ALL the posts as I am quickly hitting my late-night focusing ability limits. However, I had a few questions and thoughts I wanted to toss out there in response to some of the posts about small personal care entrepreneurs being threatened by this new legislation.

    Are we talking about the type of entrepreneurs who make their own products and sell them on the web via their own sites or sites like etsy? Don’t they know what ingredients they are using in their own hand-crafted formulas? I’m sorry that I must be missing something in the idea that the research to report their ingredient use would be so time consuming and burdensome as to drive them out of business… They must know what they are using and in what proportions in order to make the product in the first place, so what makes is so much more difficult to send that information on to a regulating agency of some sort? Please help me better understand this concern many of you seem to have. I’ll have to go try to dig up the actual bill, but is it actually proposing that manufacturers need to list every trace ingredient too? That just seems absurd and hard to believe. As for label-size/space on little bottles… maybe those peel open for more space -type labels like the ones used on tylenol dropper bottles?

    Also, just another question based on a few underlying thoughts I have about how “we” as a socieity work and do business in general… I realize that each of these individuals likely takes a certain amount of pride in their craft and personal creations, and I do not wish to negate that, but ultimately, I suspect they want a fulfilling and meaningful way to create a living by which to feed their families and enjoy life with loved ones, like we all do, yes? Are there not other options for these entrepreneurs to remain within the safe personal care industry, maintain their entrepreneurial focus in life, but escape the huge time constraints of doing it all on their own? Robert Kiyosaki, in his concept of “The Cashflow Quadrant” (4 different ways income is earned: employee, self-employed small business, big business, investing), discusses the difficult realities of life for someone absolutely intent on “doing it all themselves.” In this case, the researching of ingredients, the experimentation of formulations, the testing for potency and product stability, the documentation of ingredients, the actual making of the products in quantities large enough to meet what are hopefully increasing customer demands would all fall into those difficult, time-consuming realities. If these individuals could find ways to pursue entrepreneurship within their passion for the safe personal care industry, but without all the associated “do it yourself” business headaches, would the majority of them not prefer to ditch all the headaches, including this regulatory headache, anyway?

    Just some questions and thoughts. Thanks for the dialogue!

  13. I am a small business, but not a home based business. I employ almost 20 people, offer them good salaries and benefits. We sell enough product to be required to register.

    I agree that having to list ingredients with trace elements that “MAY” be carcinogenic is crazy. We are a highly regulated industry already with the FDA, IFRA, etc. MAY be carcinogenic is not science. Coffee may be carcinogenic–shall we ban that, close down Starbucks?

    Most of the jobs in this country come from small business. There are a lot of businesses that are bigger than the homecrafters and smaller than Revlon in this industry.

    Why not give the money to FDA to enforce the laws already on the books. Regulate what comes in from China. U.S. cosmetic manufacturers already provide a very safe product. I am more worried about the food I purchase–tons of it coming from China.

    We need an appreciation of Good Science. Let’s fund instead science in our public schools!

  14. Fantastic post with such spirited and interesting comments and educated and impassioned commenters. Everyone that has commented and posted have covered the issues well. I completely concur that the trace ingredient/carcinogenicity issue is a ludicrous (though well meaning) clause. Additionally, the commenter that understood that ‘Time is Money’ is right on … the money. =) There are so many hours in the day and having to update your database every time you change vendors (yes, every time you change vendors!) is not a good use of entrepreneurial time considering how much work needs to happen to get a small business up and running.

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