You have probably heard of preservatives in Beauty products. These chemicals are essential for cosmetic products because they extend their shelf life by inhibiting the growth of microbes. Because most microbes live in water, preservatives must also be water-soluble. Preservatives can be synthetic or natural and perform different functions depending on their formulation. Parabens and benzyl alcohol are commonly used preservatives, as are salicylic acid, formaldehyde, and tetrasodium EDTA.
While the beauty industry has long argued that they’d prefer safer ingredients, the FDA’s lack of funding has frustrated the industry. That’s why many companies, including the big three cosmetics conglomerates, have been lobbying the federal government to increase its funding for the agency. While the FDA is trying to address these concerns, the beauty industry has been frustrated. However, they’ve stayed hopeful in their quest for a more effective regulatory process.
Many cosmetics contain emulsifiers, which help keep like substances together. Emulsions are essentially small droplets of oil that are dispersed in water. These chemicals work to lower the surface tension between the oil and water, making the resulting product homogeneous and well-mixed. Some examples of emulsifiers include lactic acid, potassium cetyl sulfate, and laureth-4.
FDA regulation of beauty products was long overdue. But today, the cosmetics industry is finally responding to this backlash by offering cleaner, safer alternatives. The advent of the “clean beauty” movement has created an entirely new market niche. The beauty industry used to be dominated by natural beauty products, which you could only find at health food stores or farmers markets. Now, sleek, new brands are positioning themselves as “cleaner” alternatives. They are the future of beauty shopping, and consumers are taking notice.
European countries have gone a step ahead in this regard, banning harmful chemicals from cosmetics in 2003. The United States needs to follow suit. The European Union has banned the use of certain chemicals in cosmetics, which are associated with cancer, birth defects, and other ailments. The American cosmetics industry needs to start focusing on green chemistry as well. That way, cosmetics companies will be forced to make changes. In the meantime, there is no room for complacency.
There are several pieces of legislation that are pending in Congress. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey introduced a discussion draft of a House bill in 2016. Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch introduced the FDA Cosmetic Safety and Modernization Act in 2017. Both of these bills have received widespread support from the cosmetics industry. The FDA has outlined the steps necessary to ensure that the public is protected. However, the issue is still a long way off.