Monday, January 7, 2013

Etsy Policy Changes And Cosmetics

Here is an article dated 2012, on the new Etsy policy changes that apply to cosmetic product vendors as well, now.

Improper marketing claims can be a huge problem with some cosmetics but safety is paramount. A number of Etsy cosmetic vendors appear to be clueless, in a few of the public Etsy forum discussions I have read, as to what FDA marketing restrictions they need to be in compliance with, while hoping they do not get caught. Others appear to be trying to figure out ways around the regulations and remain selling on Etsy, which is a bad sign to me. If so little effort has been put into learning about government cosmetic marketing regulations and the resulting consequences of violating them, how can a vendor be trusted to be selling cosmetics that are safe?

Natural is definitely not safer than synthetic in the hands of those who market and sell cosmetics first and ask important questions later. The work comes first, in making sure a product is safe and well formulated, with all government safety regulations in place having been followed. Hopefully, product performance lives up to its ad copy, which also needs to be in line with existing laws. "Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products."

Why are cosmetics marketing regulations such a big deal? When marketing claims go beyond the legal restrictions, the product, for all intents and purposes, can become a drug.  

From the FDA 2012
“Two important protections for the public are that a firm may not sell new drugs unless they have been tested and approved by FDA and a firm may not make false or unsubstantiated claims about drugs they sell,” said Dara A. Corrigan, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “When a firm disregards these protections, it not only violates the law but also creates a risk for consumers, who may rely on a bogus product and forego effective and proven treatment. FDA must and will take aggressive enforcement action.”  

Are mainstream cosmetics companies exempt from FDA marketing claim challenges? No, they are not. Lancome is owned by L'Oreal. See also this post

The FDA has current resources for the reporting of adverse cosmetics effects and improper marketing claims. One simply has to use them.

From the resources link above.
"When in doubt about how to report a problem, call your local FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator."

More resources from the FDA, updated 2016    

  • "Certain claims may cause a product to be considered a drug, even if the product is marketed as if it were a cosmetic. Such claims establish the product as a drug because the intended use is to treat or prevent disease or otherwise affect the structure or functions of the human body. Some examples are claims that products will restore hair growth, reduce cellulite, treat varicose veins ...

  • This principle also holds true for "essential oils." For example, a fragrance marketed for promoting attractiveness is a cosmetic. But a fragrance marketed with certain "aromatherapy" claims, such as assertions that the scent will help the consumer sleep or quit smoking, meets the definition of a drug because of its intended use. ..."

Cosmetics products, whether they are mainstream or alternative, need to be safe, properly formulated and regulated. Marketing claims need to be supported by legitimate, reputable sources. Unfortunately, with regard to some natural products, the scientific evidence is limited and lacking, as to the effectiveness claimed by those trying to sell them at a profit, for uses not defined as cosmetic. 

Some natural cosmetics products have been removed from the market for safety reasons. Information on mercury can be found here. Products can be contaminated several ways making them unsafe, that only accepted testing can reveal. 

See Also
FDA Consumer Update, updated 2015
"A study published in the August 27, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), demonstrated that one-fifth of U.S.-manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic products bought on the Internet contained detectable lead, mercury, or arsenic. ... All metal-containing products exceeded one or more standards for acceptable daily metal intake. ... In light of recent reports, FDA ... considering possible enforcement actions related to Ayurvedic products manufactured in the United States."
The International Society of Dermatology, abstract 2012
"Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda may cause heavy metal toxicity, severe cutaneous adverse reactions, and contact dermatitis. ... Hair oils may cause contact dermatitis and folliculitis."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2012
"Numerous cases of heavy metal poisonings associated with the use of foreign medications, supplements, traditional remedies, or other health products have been documented (2–5). ... Heavy metals might not be listed as ingredients and might only be identified by testing. Some heavy metal inclusion might result from incidental contamination during production (e.g., the use of contaminated raw ingredients or poor manufacturing equipment), whereas other inclusion might be intentional for perceived therapeutic benefits."