Beauty tips for the FDA

So how much do unregulated cosmetics have to do with cancer? Might be more than you’d think.

By law, cosmetics companies are supposed to do some kind of research into the safety of their products before putting them on the market. “If the safety of an ingredient as used in a cosmetic product has not been established by CIR,” a PCPC spokesman stated, “a company must possess other information to substantiate the safety of the ingredient for its intended use and make that information available for inspection by FDA upon request.” But the FDA’s review of industry-sponsored research, if it happens at all, won’t occur until the product is already on the market.

For example, in recent years, a substantial controversy has arisen over the use of lead in lipstick. Lead can be a pretty serious substance. The Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of lead in house paint in 1977, due to the brain damage it has been proven to cause in children. Because of its neurotoxicity, leaded gasoline has been entirely banned in the U.S. since 1995. The FDA also bans the presence of lead in candy bars in concentrations greater than 0.1 part per million.

Yet the FDA never got around to even testing lead in lipstick until 2010. When it did, it found concentrations as high as 3.06 parts per million—or more than thirty times the maximum allowed in candy bars. Whether this is an unsafe level for lipstick users I’ll leave to others to dispute, but the point is, under the current regulatory regime, lipstick users were exposed to these concentrations of lead for decades without their knowing it and without the FDA ever conducting so much as one test. For now, at least, the FDA says the lead in lipstick is safe, though if I were a woman, I wouldn’t be licking my lips.

Just one example, go read the rest.

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