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Skin care products carry big risks

Written by Diane Archer

A 2017 research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine speaks to the big risks of cosmetics and other skin care products, which do not require Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pre-market approval; manufacturers are not even required to let the FDA know about reported harms. Risks include everything from non-serious injury to serious injury, disability, congenital defect or death. You can learn more about products from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition’s Adverse Event Reporting System (CFSAN).

There are risks associated with lipsticks, lip ointments and mascaras. One product, WEN, by Chaz Dean Cleansing Conditioners appears to cause hair to fall out as well as scalp irritation. Although the manufacturer has received 21,000 complaints about the product, it is still on the market.

If you’d like to avoid buying products that contain dangerous chemicals, visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep site, which rates almost 70,000 skin care products based on their chemical makeup.

The three categories of products most reported on CFSAN were hair care, skin care and tattoos. Products with the most serious health outcomes were baby products, personal cleanliness products and hair coloring products.

The FDA needs to oversee cosmetics and personal care products, especially because these products do not need to be approved before being sold. Requiring manufacturers of personal care products to report adverse events is critical. The CFSAN likely only captures a small portion of harms.

California Senator Diane Feinstein has a bill in Congress, the Personal Care Products Safety Act (S.726), which would give the FDA the ability to recall unsafe cosmetics and personal care products and would also require the manufacturers to report adverse events.


This post was first published on July 4, 2017 and has been updated.

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