WASHINGTON — Unlike with food or medicine, the federal government has little to no power to make sure that the ingredients in your shampoo or other personal care products are safe. Regulators also can’t force a cosmetic company to remove a product from the shelves if it’s unsafe.
However, a new bipartisan plan in Washington aims to force companies to take cosmetics deemed to be unsafe off the market.
Miriam Lawrence’s 9-year-old daughter, Eliana, had an adverse reaction after using a Wen hair product.
The third time Eliana used the shampoo, “Her hair slipped off her head on contact instantly,” Lawrence said.
Eliana, now 11, is still missing about a quarter of her red curly hair.
Wen has received tens of thousands of complaints about its products causing hair loss, baldness and rashes. But the company isn’t required to notify the government of “adverse reaction” reports — even if someone dies.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-New Jersey, and Leonard Lance, R-New Jersey, unveiled a bipartisan proposal that would strengthen the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to regulate cosmetic products.
Under the plan, which is still in the drafting stage, the FDA would have the power to review the safety of ingredients used by cosmetics companies and the ability to order recalls if a product turns out to be unsafe. Companies would have to prove that their products are safe before putting them on the market.
The FDA regulation would be funded by $20.6 million in fees levied on cosmetics manufacturers.
Lawrence says she was shocked regulations aren’t already in place.
“I would never have guessed a shampoo would do that especially one that purported to be extra gentle and natural,” she said.
For its part, Wen representatives say its products are safe and that the company is working with federal regulators.
In August, the FDA issued a safety alert on Wen products.