Cosmetic products are almost like a religion in the United States. In cities where looking your best is just as important as breathing, everyone—men, women and even teenagers included—is always thinking about the way they look. Blame it on television shows that show the possibility of an almost magical transformation after a makeover. Due to the increased importance of physical beauty and the idea that even the kid next door can look fabulous like a movie star, the cosmetic product industry has seen an upsurge in popularity.
The cosmetic products industry is literally a billion dollar business. There are just so many brands to choose from that manufacturers have been trying their best for a greater slice of the cosmetics market. We’ve seen prices of shampoos, make-up, anti-aging creams, lotions and nail care products go down just to level off with the competition and also as a reaction to the tough economic times that most consumers are facing now.
FDA approval. The primary concern of course is safety. Before a cosmetic product is to be released into the mass market, by doing extensive testing government agencies make sure that products will not cause untoward injuries or damages. The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) reviews new cosmetics. Some cosmetics can indeed be considered as drugs, especially if these intend to treat skin disorders or symptoms of other diseases. For instance, a dandruff shampoo can be considered a drug, and is therefore under the jurisdiction of the FDA. The main issue here is when cosmetics are sold with drug-like claims, or when drugs are marketed as cosmetics, when in fact these contain drugs.
The FDA does not require approval for cosmetics, except for those that contain color additives. However, cosmetic companies may still choose to voluntarily submit their products for testing and approval.
In summary, the FDA has these requirements for cosmetic firms who wish to market products in the US:
- Adulteration and misbranding. The FDA has rules against products that are adulterated with ingredients and substances that may be harmful to the end-user’s health.
- Labeling. Cosmetics should be labeled on the outside and the inside of the packaging. These labels should include the name of the product, the volume, and the ingredients.
- Declaration of ingredients. The FDA also states that ingredients used in cosmetics should be conspicuously printed on the packaging, and should be visible to the end-user at the time of purchase.
- Label warnings. The FDA also rules that cosmetics that may cause harm to some users, or danger when misused, should be labeled as such. Some examples are pressurized sprays, and products intended for children.
- Tamper resistant packaging. The FDA also rules that cosmetic products should come in tamper-resistant packaging.
Environmental compliance. Most manufacturers also approach non-governmental organizations for their endorsement regarding certain advocacies. PETA, for instance, vouches for the companies who do not do animal testing in their manufacturing process. Other organizations such as Green Peace certify that a certain company is environmentally compliant. While these aren’t requirements, companies use their links to these foundations as a way of showing their social responsibility and commitment to protecting the environment. At the very least, these are probably marketing techniques that aid in getting customers to trust the cosmetics more.
Next time you go to that discount cosmetic counter, or maybe even the more upscale boutiques, keep in mind that in the end, that product in your hand has probably had to go through tedious rounds of testing just to make sure that it is safe for you to use.