Why The Cosmetic Industry Needs Reforming and the Introduction of Clean Beauty

Why is there need for reform in the cosmetic industry?

The cosmetic industry is a multi billion dollar company that impacts individuals globally. There are multiple studies that show how the exposure and accumulation of chemicals found in cosmetics over time has been tied to health issues. Some of these include lung damage, cancer, skin disease, allergies, reproductive disorders, development disorders, dermatitis, and much more. Many ingredients in cosmetics are known to be carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. The Food and Drug administration has been in charge of regulating the sales of cosmetic and personal care products since 1938 through the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Although, these FDA regulations are not very strict. The FDA will only take action against a product if a product is “adulterated” or “misbranded.” The FDA themselves  does not have the ability to recall any products on the market. With the responsibility of safety on the manufacturer this makes it difficult to understand health implications over multiple years. 


What chemicals should we be worried about?

Endocrine disrupting chemicals are often in the ingredients of cosmetics we use on a daily basis. These can be defined as those that change the way our endocrine system functions. Our endocrine is very important because it releases hormones and other body chemicals that help our body function. Some potential endocrine disruptors include benzophenone-3 (BP-3), phthalates, triclosan, and parabens. Parabens are an important endocrine disrupting chemical to be mindful of because they are the most widely used synthetic preservative.

Where does the United States stand compared to other countries in terms of regulation?

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), is a panel that doesn’t have the power to regulate products, but performs reviews of product ingredients and if they are deemed safe. They test ingredients based on the information manufacturers can voluntarily reveal through the FDA. Although the CIR has only 11 ingredients they rated as unsafe compared to the much more strict EU that has banned almost 1,400 ingredients. Many known ingredients that cause harm to humans such as formaldehyde, parabens, and coal tar are banned in the EU but not in the United States.

What can you do? 

Clean Beauty – Creating Safe Products

In order to prevent health issues caused by cosmetics without the FDA changing their regulations there has been an increased popularity in “clean beauty” and different companies taking it upon themselves to set the standards for health. An example of these clean standards can be seen by a company such as Credo. Credo has “The Dirty List” on their website that states the 2700+ ingredients they do not allow the products they carry to include. They even have an article that outlines 5 easy products on one’s shelf to swap for clean products they carry. Another company with a similar mission is Beautycounter. Beautycounter manufactures products without 1,800 ingredients they have defined on their “Never List.” Taken a step further, Beautycounter also advocates to change the industry with stricter legislation and have been able to pass quite a few in different states.

There is much room to grow in the sphere of clean beauty and it’s important for consumers to start being more mindful regarding the products they leave on their skin (even rinse off) on a daily basis.




Okereke J. N., Udebuani A. C., Ezeji E. U., Obasi K. O., Nnoli M. C. (2015). Possible Health Implications Associated with Cosmetics: A Review. Science Journal of Public Health, 3(5), 58. https://doi.org/10.11648/j.sjph.s.2015030501.21

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. (2020). Is it a cosmetic, a drug, or both? (or is itsoap?). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-laws-regulations/it-cosmetic-drug-or-both-or-it-soap

Futran Fuhrman, V., Tal, A., & Arnon, S. (2015). Why endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) challenge traditional risk assessment and how to respond. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 286, 589–611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2014.12.012

Cornell, E. M., Janetos, T. M., & Xu, S. (2019). Time for a makeover-cosmetics regulation in the United States. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 18(6), 2041–2047. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.12886

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