5 Tips on Cosmetic Regulations


Ingredients are the most important feature of skincare products, especially when you have sensitive, reactive skin like us. This includes eczema, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and even irritable, dramatic skin. We have to carefully scan a grocery list to find any allergens or aggressors. We are some of the most conscious consumers out there. So, as a fellow consumer that still evaluates everything, and as a producer of specialty formulations, I couldn’t continue formulating without the transparency and awareness consumers deserve. In this article we discuss the current regulations, catch phrases, and the cost-benefit of stricter cosmetic regulations.

COSM RESEARCH cosmetic regulations COSM RESEARCH cosmetic regulations COSM RESEARCH cosmetic regulations

1. Understanding the terms we see every day.

The terms “clean”, “green”, “organic”, and “cruelty free” are not fully regulated by the FDA. [source] Skincare products are constantly evolving, and with that are the terms used to describe them. Many of these terms are used solely for marketing purposes to appeal to society. As consumers, we should be aware and knowledgeable of these phrases used to describe what we use on our skin. If you’re unsure of the term used, try to contact the company and ask them to explain why they use the term. As a brand who is sincerely trying to help those with sensitive and reactive skin, we want to be as transparent as possible to the consumer.

2. In the US, look closely at the FDA

June 25, 1938 – the day Congress passed the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938. These days cosmetics are a $60 billion-a-year business, and the average woman uses 12 products with 168 different ingredients every day. [source] Those of us with highly irritated skin look at this number and can’t help but think “how many of these ingredients do I need to avoid?”

3. Preservatives: Types and Requirements

A 2018 survey by students in the Fashion Institute of Technology’s graduate school of cosmetics and fragrance marketing and management found that “90% of consumers believed that natural or naturally-derived beauty ingredients were better for them.” [source]

  • Preservatives are required in any water-based product to prevent bacteria and fungus growth. Be very skeptical of any water-based products you use which contain no preservative, because it is very likely that bacteria may be growing depending on how long it’s been used.
  • Most popular preservatives today are:
    • Phenoxyethanol - many of products, including natural and organic brands, are using this alternative synthetic preservative [source]
    • Ethylhexylglycerin - a natural preservative derived from glycerin [source]
4. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

OSHA has two detailed publications on formaldehyde and its effects in salons, both hair and nail. This is important for anyone who works or patrons these salons, to ensure you’re not exposing yourself. Formaldehyde is a “sensitizer,” which means that it can cause allergic reactions of the skin, eyes, and lungs such as asthma-like breathing problems and skin rashes and itching. When formaldehyde is in a product that gets sprayed into the eyes, it can damage the eyes and cause blindness. [source]

Safety for the consumers, as well as the employees of these shops, should always be priority over profit margins. As patrons and employees of hair and nail salons, it’s super important to understand the risks of products being used and try to stay informed of the products under scrutiny.

5. Stricter regulations on cosmetics for consumers and brands include:
  • Advantages
    • Since large- and small-scale creators will be under stricter rule, it’s in favor of the consumers.
    • Consumers can more clearly understand labeling and ingredient lists.
    • US creators can access more international customers if the global standards sync up.
  • Disadvantages
    • Small companies may fail since they may not be able to pay the fee likely to be collected to run the regulatory programs, leaving consumers only exposed to “big business” products.
    • Small companies may fail since they cannot afford to extensively test products as per regulatory standards, again leaving only “big companies” to produce.
    • When more regulation is introduced into a market, this typically can transfer additional costs on to consumers, and we fear consumers will bear the brunt.
    • When regulation is enacted to reduce competition, we typically find this to be more hurtful to consumers.

There's a wealth of this information readily available to consumers, but sometimes it’s just too much to consider. Stricter regulations have advantages and disadvantages, however, our own standard are strict and that’s in service of everyone out there who’s just like me!


cosm research skincare