Cosmetics and Government Regulation: What You Need to Know

Cosmetics and Government Regulation: What You Need to Know

Is your skin being protected against bad make-up? Yes and no.

The FDA seems to approve, (or disapprove), of just about everything. From prescription drugs to medical devices, vaccines and food packaging, they’re covering a wide field.

But the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t actually touch on something you might think they would: your make-up.

It can contain some bizarre ingredients like sheep grease, fish scales and shark liver oil. And you could be putting it on your face every day.

So, what’s the deal?

The FDA doesn’t approve cosmetics, but it regulates them. This means that the law doesn’t require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market.

There are, however, laws and regulations that apply to cosmetics already on the market in interstate commerce. Some of the most important prohibit the marketing of adulterated or misbranded cosmetics between states.

Related: Is There Too Much Lead in Your Lipstick?

Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products. But the law doesn’t require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with FDA. And the FDA doesn’t test the products.

Basically, it’s a bit of a ‘trust’ situation, and most of us like to think that if we place mascara around our eyes, it won’t hurt. In this age of social media, if a product did cause considerable trouble for a customer, we’d be sure to hear about it, it seems. But it’s always a good idea to ask cosmetic companies about their safety policies when in doubt, and the ingredients used.

When in doubt, go natural. There are a lot of great products to choose from.

Photo credits: Stakhov Yuriy/

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