Nov. 1, 2016 by Mollie Rosenzweig

Hair-Raising Ordeal Draws Attention to Lack of Oversight of Cosmetics, Personal Care Products

Last year, consumers linked Wen hair products to sudden and dramatic hair loss. The story generated a flurry of national coverage and spurred increased interest in just how closely the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates our cosmetic products. Indeed, Wen hair products are not alone in causing dangerous side effects and containing disconcerting ingredients: Consumers have raised alarms over formaldehyde in hair straightening products, mercury in skin creams, and an array of toxic chemicals in children's face paint, including lead, cadmium, toluene, formaldehyde, and others. 

Currently, the FDA has shockingly little authority to regulate personal care and cosmetic products, which comes as a surprise to many consumers. In contrast to the rigorous testing pharmaceutical products must undergo before they can be marketed and sold, cosmetics and personal care products need not meet exacting federal standards. The innumerable chemicals in cosmetic products don't need be tested or even disclosed. Companies are not required to report consumer complaints of adverse reactions to the FDA, and even when FDA does become aware of a problem with a product, it has no authority to issue a mandatory recall after a product is linked to consumer harm. Under current law, FDA can …

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