Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

WEN Case Spurs Call for Beauty Product Regs

Feb. 7, 2018 -- Despite tens of thousands of complaints about its cleansing conditioner for hair, an FDA investigation, and a $26 million payout to affected consumers, WEN by Chaz Dean and its parent company are still selling that product online and through QVC.

Two retailers of makeup geared to teens, on the other hand, voluntarily pulled their products from their shelves after a parent paid to have the products tested and found that eyeshadows and face powder contained traces of asbestos, which causes cancer.

Why the difference? Companies that make or sell beauty and personal care products can choose how to respond to consumer complaints, lawsuits, and government warnings -- something lawmakers in Congress are hoping to change.

“There is no other class of products so widely used in the United States with so little regulation,” wrote Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Tuesday.

The FDA, which regulates drugs and food, is hamstrung when it comes to products like dietary supplements and cosmetics, a $62 billion industry. The agency can send warning letters and inspect manufacturing and distribution facilities. But it does not have the authority to recall products. The retailers and manufacturers can decide what they want to do.

Some do recall products as a result of consumer pressure, as in the case of Justice and Claire’s. The two retail chains stopped selling several of their own lines – Justice recalled 8 Just Shine products, including Just Shine Shimmer Powder and Eye Shadow Palette, and Claire’s pulled 17 makeup kits that included eye shadow and lip gloss -- after tests from a lab found they contained asbestos. A concerned parent had the tests done at a private lab, a TV station reported.

WEN denied any problems with its products, and Claire’s last year denied that its products contained asbestos, citing results from its own lab tests. Justice said last year that it had ended its relationship with the vendor that produced the makeup.

Feinstein and Collins have introduced the Personal Care Products Safety Act to push for tighter regulations on cosmetics and personal care products. The Feinstein-Collins bill also requires the FDA to test a certain number of chemicals each year to see how safe they are, and it allows the agency to recall products deemed to be harmful to consumers.

Also on Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Dingell (R-Michigan) introduced a bill mandating that cosmetics marketed to children are free of asbestos.