Beauty brands: Are You Tracking The New Personal Care Products Safety Act?

Lela Barker

Oh, the irony…

 

Last night, I was sitting with a table full of LBU graduates (hi, gang!) at the fancy awards dinner on the final night of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild annual conference. I’d spent the last four days teaching, networking and supporting my fellow beauty makers and this was our final “hurrah!”- a night to celebrate handmade cosmetics and all the amazing things that micro beauty brands are doing to support and grow this industry. Cocktails were served promptly at 6pm; dinner at 6:30.

 

As we sat together recounting all the fun from the week, celebrating the most innovative products and cheering on soapmakers who are advancing their education through certification, I had no idea that a new federal cosmetic bill had dropped just fifteen minutes before the celebration started that evening. Oh Universe, you do have a funny bone, don’t you?

 

Personal Care Products Safety Act

 

As an industry, we’ve been through this before. A wave of proposed cosmetic bills has washed over Congress since 2008. None have passed, but the lobbying continues and the desire to overhaul cosmetic legislation seems to be picking up steam in certain circles.

 

I’ve been through this before, too. As the founder of a beauty brand, I strive to keep one eye tuned towards the legislative landscape, because I’m keenly aware of the potentially profound impact new federal mandates will have on my livelihood, on my family, and the families of my staff. And I’ve had the privilege of marching up to Washington DC on multiple occasions to meet with legislative officials and the FDA to educate them about micro beauty brands and how these rules will affect our industry. I’m glad they’ve listened in the past and I’m hopeful that they’ll continue listening as they weigh their next steps. My brand’s last name isn’t “Gamble” or “Johnson” and my products certainly aren’t in the cabinets of every American family, but my business matters, too. As does yours…

 

As I navigated a few airports to get myself home today, I spent several hours in contemplation of this new 98-page bill. Known as the Personal Care Products Safety Act, it was introduced last night by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME).  As is customary, this kind of proposed legislation is steeped in complex language which is often unnecessarily confusing to those of use who are minus one law degree. As I scrutinized the bill, I took some careful notes and I thought you might find them helpful, too.

 

While I’m not an attorney, legislator or lobbyist, I have studied many of the previous bills and I do have some grasp on the language. I’ve put together a “layman’s interpretation” of the bill, having spent several hours in a  deep dive dissection. And I want to be clear: though I have met with federal legislative representatives and the FDA on several previous occasions with regard to pending cosmetic legislation, I haven’t had any contact with Senator Feinstein’s office with regard to this particular piece of legislation.

 

We should all have our antennae up- both as beauty brands and makers, too, no matter which product category we’re choosing to operate in. If we want to maintain the vibrancy of the small business, American-made community, then we’re going to need to stick together. This bill is not yet law and may not ever become law. It will inevitably evolve as it moves through the committee process and winds its way through both houses of Congress. But the time to enlighten ourselves and be proactive starts right now!

 

LEGISLATIVE RESOURCES

 

1. PRESS RELEASE: Senators Introduce Bill to Strengthen Personal Care Product Oversight. Read what Senator Feinstein had to say upon the bill’s release.

 

2. THE BILL: Meet the new Personal Care Products Safety Act, all 98 pages of it.

 

3. THE COALITIONS: It’s important that we stay up-to-speed on the latest developments and understand the various ways in which we can influence the legislative process. The following trade organizations and coalitions are tracking the issue while working hard to keep the industry informed.

Coalition of Handmade Entrepreneurs

Indie Business Network

Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild

Handmade Cosmetic Alliance

 

4. MY “LAYMAN’S” NOTES ON THE BILL: I’ve spent the day distilling 98 pages of politically-infused language down to 7 pages of “Layman’s language” notes, extracting the pieces of this particular legislation that I believe have the opportunity to significantly shape the way indie beauty brands do business in this country. I’ve cross-referenced each bullet point so that you can easily refer back to the language of the original bill. I’ll start with just one section of the bill and then tuck a link to all of my notes below.

 

MANDATORY FACILITY REGISTRATION

 

•  Facilities which manufacture, process, pack or hold cosmetic products will be required to register with the FDA. In essence, this looks like the current voluntarily registration program made mandatory. (Section 605, page 5)

 

•  Registration must include: facility name, full physical address, all business trading names, nature of the business activities, emergency contact information, and an assurance that the FDA “will be permitted to inspect such facility at the times and in the manner permitted by this Act.” (Section 605, page 9)

 

•  That registration must be renewed once every 3 years and updated within 60 days of any change in registration information. New facilities must be registered within 60 days of opening. (Section 605, page 7)

 

•  The FDA will compile a list of all registered facilities and that list will be made available to the public. (Section 605, page 10)

 

•  The physical address of manufacturing facilities must be disclosed to the FDA and that information will be compiled and made public through the FDA.  There will be an exception made for manufacturing facilities which are also private residences- registration will be required but the physical address will not be made public. (Section 605, page 10)

 

Capture

 

READ THE REST OF MY “PLAIN-ENGLISH” NOTES ABOUT THE NEW COSMETICS BILL.


Please share this post among the maker community in general and the beauty community in particular. Have questions about the bill? Insights about how the proposed legislation will affect micro beauty brands? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!

 

About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

16 responses on “Beauty brands: Are You Tracking The New Personal Care Products Safety Act?

  1. Tricia

    Will definitely be on our radar to watch this one carefully!! BTW, it was such interesting and ironic timing to hear of the Bill being introduced just as we were completing a long week+ of working with the HSCG Annual Conference!! (BTW!! Miss you already!!)

  2. Lynn

    Thank you Lela for distilling all 98 pages of that wonderful legislative language. Being short a law degree here too, I appreciate your efforts on behalf of all of us. Also, kissing my GMP binder from your GMP course, thanking you and your course for the fantastic road map and plan to execute to be voluntarily compliant before legislation hits the books. xoxo Lynn

  3. Anne-Marie

    Lela,

    Thank you for the thorough review and analysis. It’s been an honor to work with you and others on this issue for over seven years now. Thank you for all of the hard work you do for the industry.

  4. Paula Loughlin

    FYI, When the bill mentions Small Business as defined in the Small Business Act it is referring to businesses which have annual receipts under 750k. So under the proposed bill taking into account the exemption of manufacturers with less than 100k in annual sales and small business under the proposed bill would be one with annual gross sales of 100k to 749k in gross annual sales.

  5. Anne-Marie

    Hi Paula,

    The COHE team is still reading and digesting the bill, point by point. Each section has varying levels of exemption (one level for fees, one level for registration, one level for ingredient reporting etc.). My understanding of the bill is growing and I do not yet understand all the ins and outs of it.

    Having seen the bill in several drafts and spoken with the authors in the past, I don’t think their intention is to have a $750,000 exemption in there. A $750,000 exemption would be a step in the right direction but I don’t believe that’s the case since on page 16-17, they specifically refer to $500,000 in sales over a three year period.

  6. Carrie Seibert

    Thank you so very much for investing your time and resources into deciphering this proposal. I feel better informed after having read your notes and more motivated to implement all I learned in your recent GMP class!

  7. Janina

    According to what I read in your brief, Lela, this legislation — so far — sounds a lot less threatening to small business than the last bill they attempted to push through Congress. The last one would have effectively shut down most small producers due to exorbitant per-product registration fees. Of course any legislation can turn into a draconian bureaucratic nightmare. The section that currently worries me is vaguely defined proof of safety standards. I’ll for sure be keeping my eye on this as it develops. Thank goodness for brilliant watchdogs like yourself and thank you so much for writing up that report.

    1. Lela Post author

      Janina,

      Many thanks for your comment! One of the most concerning aspects of this bill in particular is the frightfully low exemption level. Past bills have flirted with $1million or $2million as exemption levels… this bills settled on $100,000. By any official definition, that’s not “small business.” That’s a “teeny-tiny-easy-to-put-out-of-business” business. The paperwork along is mindboggling, though I am thankful that the actual registration fees are lower. And the “adverse event reporting” standards are more stringent than those currently applied to over-the-counter drugs. Keep a close eye on this one, Janina!

  8. NORMA CAMPBELL

    I CAN UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS FRIENDS MAY BE UPSET BY THIS NEW BILL BUT I TAKE ANOTHER SLANT AT IT. NO WHERE IN YOUR WRITINGS OR FRIENDS WRITINGS DID I FIND MENTION OF THE FACT THAT THIS BILL MAY OPEN UP CRUEL ANIMAL TESTING OF COSMETICS WHICH ALTHO NOT REQUIRED ARE DONE BY SOME COMPANIES. THIS BILL MAY MANDATE THAT SUCH TESTS ARE PERFORMED.

    I FIND ANIMAL TESTING ABHORRENT AND SINCERELY HOPE THAT IT WILL STILL BE OPTIONAL SHOULD THIS BILL PASS. I AM ALSO HOPING THAT YOUR GROUP AND FRIENDS WILL OPT NOT TO DO ANY ANIMAL TESTING.

    1. miriam

      The bill discourages animal testing, and suggests alternatives to animal testing. The FDA would not do animal testing as part of this bill. There are provisions for small businesses. There would be a simplified process for businesses taking in $100,000 – 500,000 a year and no fees. Fees are on a sliding scale. A uniform regulation would make it easier on small businesses rather than having a patchwork of varying state regulations to try to keep up with. Ingredient review will help small businesses that wouldn’t have the resources to evaluate potentially harmful ingredients.
      It’s irresponsible companies like WEN that necessitate regulation. The overwhelming majority of voters believe the government should be able to recall dangerous personal care products, and support for notification of injuries is nearly unanimous. There are many toxic ingredients used in cosmetics in the US that are restricted in Europe and Canada. I believe most companies don’t want to harm their customers, but unfortunately there are companies that simply don’t care who they harm as long as they continue to make money, they will pay the lawsuits and keep harming new customers. As a mom of a little girl who was badly harmed, likely permanently by a hair product, it’s time to make sure our personal care products are safe.

  9. George

    Hey Lela,

    Thanks for sharing such beautiful information. This is quite helpful for beauty brands like us, VedaOils. We deal with 100% Natural and Pure Beauty products since past two decades in India. Thanks once again dear.

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