What’s In Your Cosmetic Products?

Blog, Law and Entertainment, Lifestyle

“. . . the urge to decorate ourselves is one of the most fundamentals instincts of human nature” [1]

When completing my Master of Science in Law at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, I wrote a demand for change regarding Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on cosmetics. Cosmetics, according to the FDA, include makeup, moisturizers, hair dyes, straighteners, and removers, perfumes, colognes and nail care products. Some of these products are ones that I use everyday. Before I wrote this paper, I was fascinated (and still am) with the power and influence the beauty industry has on women and girls.

I LOVE beauty products. Considering I recently went to Sephora, this is a perfect time to introduce you three of my latest products. First, the Clinique: Take the Day Off is ESSENTIAL for anyone who wears makeup. This is an oil based makeup remover that leaves your face super soft and clear of any residue. If you are wondering if your makeup remover wipes are better, they aren’t. This is the sh*t and this little size is just $10. That’s less than a manicure people, so pull out your card and buy it already.

Second, one of my friends recommended I get the Grande Lash- MD lash enhancing serum. Actually it wasn’t a friend friend. Rather someone I met talking at the grocery store. Quarantine really has me lacking in human interactions so I talk to people any chance I get. Her judgment was on point. I have been on a quest for more bold and beautiful lashes (can you blame me?!). I usually get my beauty advice from my friends in medical school, so the MD in the title makes it looks hella official. . . I’m into it.

Confession time: The Moroccan Oil Body Polishing Scrub is a free sample, but it has grown to be one of my absolute FAVORITES. I feel very refreshed and it leaves your skin super smooth. . . no complaints here.

ANYWAY, I got lost in a cosmetic wonderland. Back to my paper.

I wanted to write something that touched my life and could potentially make an impact on others and how we view everyday cosmetics. As a disclaimer, this paper was written in 2018. Some sources and statistics used may be outdated. However, its message remains as a powerful reminder to uphold the integrity of the beauty industry through proper regulation of products.

Hope you enjoy!


The cosmetic industry is expected to reach 130 billion dollars in global sales by 2019 [2]. Its success is attributed to its flexibility. The cosmetic industry, driven by the preoccupation with youthful image and aesthetics, is timeless and continuously shaped by social trends and identity. Usage of cosmetics and personal care products function to redefine gender lines, push global boundaries, and positively influence self confidence. These aspects promote evolution, but allow the cosmetic industry to feed off of a self-regulatory structure. It is essential to modernize FDA’s statutory authority over cometic products because its current self-regulatory framework presents significant problems in establishing safety and guidelines for consumers. Modernizing FDA authority over cosmetics with an Act that enforces (1) pre-market testing procedures, (2) ingredient safety assessments and (3) a centralized cosmetic database will provide uniformity of products and standards while protecting consumers worldwide. Examining and enforcing these updates to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 will require a comparison and adoption of regulations set forth by the European Union (EU) Cosmetic Directive.

Is There A Cosmetic Regulation Or Just An Illusion?

“In regulating cosmetics, the agency functions like a highway patrolman. . . the FDA regulation of cosmetics is entirely ex post.” [3]

The 1930s sparked a dramatic expansion of cosmetic products in the marketplace, allowing many consumers to assume there was protection where none existed. The disparity between regulatory reality and consumer presumptions provided to be dangerous especially when cosmetic products began harming consumers. Cuticle removers removed both fingernails and cuticles, mascara’s binding ingredient was rat poison and other personal products consisted of acetone, formaldehyde and mercury. [4] Publicizing these stories gained publicity and propagated the formation of the 1938 Act. Lack of updating the 1938 Act leaves consumers blindly trusting cosmetic companies with their products with no pre-market testing procedures. In a multi-billion dollar industry, citizens should prioritize the safety and function of the cosmetic industry. Although publicized media should be used as a political agent, solely relying on this method is not effective to change legislation.

Modernizing the current statute will allow the FDA to actively oversee the safety of cosmetic products before entering the marketplace. Despite myths, harmonizing the cosmetic industry promotes the same goals as a self-regulatory system: autonomy, growth and entrepreneurship. Valued at 74 billion euros in 2016, the EU cosmetic market thrives under regulation, making it the largest in the world. [5] Pre-market surveillance will shift consumer safety as the primary objective. Testing the chemical structure, level of exposure and an analysis of product safety based its application (ie. lips, scalp, eyes) [6] will hold the industry accountable for its actions. Building trust through actions rather than assumptions will yield greater economic equity while promoting consumer advocacy.

Trustworthy Ingredients

The U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) is an independent non-profit organization responsible for reviewing active cosmetic ingredients and assessing their conditions for use. After its establishment 1976, the FDA refused to create a federal safety assessment program for cosmetic ingredients. Although CIR is financed by the cosmetic industry, scientists are independent academics who are prohibited to work for a cosmetic company. Configuration of this organization was designed to promote a sense of collaboration between the public, government and the industry. Sure, research done by CIR can help mitigate concerns but, it fails to establish any legal obligation for cosmetic firms. Still, the 1983 Act does not require “premarket testing, premarket notification, premarket approval, or any other form listing [ingredient] registration.” [7]

Failure to adequately check substance prior to market places profits over people, promoting capitalistic reputation over the protection of consumers. The products that all citizens use everyday are put on the market until they are caught deceiving customers by claiming “all-natural” products despite their use of harmful synthetics, designing shampoos that cause hair loss or promoting “Drinkable Sunscreen” with healing properties. [8] Updating the 1938 Act with an ingredient selection approved and recorded by the FDA will not eliminate trust between consumers and cosmetic firms. Instead, it will provide a centralized ingredient standard that enables a clear safety evaluation of cosmetic ingredients before it can potentially harm consumers.

Solutions for an Innovative Industry

The FDA set the standards for the beauty industry in 1938. Since then, the cosmetic industry has transformed, updated and evolved with the progression of technology. The rapid globalization of the cosmetic industry has encouraged the development of advancing technologies. This shift in global perspective requires companies to change their business plans, and justify modernization of the cosmetic regulatory structure. Technologically advanced skincare products can now function as illegal new drugs, and filtered through the cosmetic industry distinguished as “advanced skin care products.”

The regime of self regulation has grown out of its historical origins. The emergence of the beauty industry has become an empire and the FDA’s reliance on self-regulation places burden on consumers to be informed, vigilant and aware to safeguard their own health. Self regulation can be more effective when cosmetic industry players are more transparent with their consumers with detailed information about safety testing and the standards used. Establishing a pre-market surveillance procedure, ingredient assessment and a centralized database will provide a robust, internationally recognized standard that enforces product safety while catering to technological developments in the cosmetic industry.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

I understand we are at a moment in time where we are constantly in a delta of change. Sure, the lack of cosmetic regulation allows anyone to open up a cosmetic line. . . but at what cost? Should we continue to place the responsibilities of cosmetics on companies or should we have more regulation? Will more regulation ensure the safety of cosmetic products?

Until next time,

Lauryn


[1] Lindy Woodhead, War Paind: Madame Helena Rubensteing and Miss Elizabeth Arden: Their Lives, Theiir Times, Their Rivarly 10 (2003)

[2] Forbes Magazine

[3] Richard, Merill, Science for Judges II: the Practice of Epidemiology and Administrative Agency Created Science: FDA Regulatory Requirements as Tort Standards (2004).

[4] Examples of Cases from the FDA “Chamber of Horrors: complied to amend the 1906 that would five jurisdiction over the beauty industry.

[5] Cosmetic Europe: The Personal Care Association

[6] EU Cosmetic Regulation

[7] Petr Barton Hutt, A History of Government Regulation of Adulteration and Misbranding of Cosmetics in Cosmetic Regulation in a Competitive Environment

[8] “Drinkable Sunscreen”: Osmisis LLC and Harmonized Water LLC located in Iowa claimed that they have treated water in order to have “amazing medicinal or cosmetic properties,” including the abilities to “protect against cancer causing UV rays, repel mosquitos that might carry the Zika virus.” Source” Dietary Supplemental & Cosmetics Legal Bulletin, Issue 48. March 2017.

What’s Your Eat Pray Love?

Blog, Lifestyle

This unprecedented time could be jaded with negative connotations of illness, unemployment and uncertainty. However, many of us are taking this as an opportunity to rise to our own occasion.

Exercising, learning a new skill, and more sleep and are a few aspects of life people have been trying to improve on during the pandemic. However, I wanted to take it a step further so I re-read the book Eat Pray Love while relaxing in the sun this past weekend.

There are a few reasons I keep coming back to this book. For one it is a self discovery book and I love that shit. You won’t believe how many self help books I have read over the years. Trust me, there are more blog posts to come.  I believe there is always an opportunity to provide good in this world. Why not start with yourself?

Second, I love the aspect of learning from the environment around you. When I learned Spanish in Argentina, I thought it was amazing to immerse myself in the culture and rhythm of the city while learning a new language.

Of course now, more than ever, I am dreaming of travel. But since I can’t go to India, Indonesia or Italy (the three locations in the book), I figured I come up with my own version of Eat Pray Love from home.

Kitchen: Building a healthy relationship with food.

Before quarantine, I thought spending time in the kitchen was a bit overrated. I often meal prepped the same meals, not really interested in expanding my knowledge about cooking in general. Well, I hate to admit it but this is still the case.

HOWEVER, I have enjoyed the idea of spending time with my love ones over the dinner table. Although I have to resist opening my fridge 100  ten times a day out of boredom. Without numerous distractions in our daily life, I started to peel back the onion to understand my relationship with food. Food is more than a foundation to support our body’s basic growth, development and function. Rather, sitting around the table and enjoying food has many symbolic meanings for love, friendship, family, helps us cope with stressful moments, and unites people together. 

Outside: Staying Active and Getting Sun

This is is self explanatory, but I have found it imperative to get some sun at least once a day. Most of the time, I walk around the block and act like I’m working out while listening to pump up music. No matter how you get it, spending at least 10 minutes out in the sun will boost your vitamin D absorption which can uplift your health and well being. Plus it gets my lazy ass off the couch. . . which is always a win. . . and who doesn’t like winning? 

A Night In: Take Time for Reflection

Although we all may be getting into the swing of quarantine by now, it is never too late to start with self-reflection. I have also found writing these blogs and doing journals as an excellent source of self-reflection. When your ideas are put on paper, you can clearly see what you want. Sometimes I let my thoughts run along the page with no restrictions or judgment. This time to be vulnerable and open with yourself can be liberating and relaxing.

We are more than half way through the year. If there is something that you want to change, start a business, move to a new place or improve your finances– now is the time to do it. It is never too late to make a change in your life. 

I hope you enjoyed my version of Eat, Pay, Love. . . what’s yours? Would love to hear about it in the comments below or send me an email at reelreviewbylauryn@gmail.com 

Until next time,

xoxo Lauryn