Makeup Alert: The Danger is not Cosmetic

Jane E. Brody: “When you wash your hair, clean or moisturize your skin, polish your nails, or put on makeup, deodorant or sunscreen, do you ever think about whether the product you’re using may do more harm than good? Maybe you should. Thanks to a lack of federal regulations, the watchword for consumers of cosmetics and personal care products should be caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware.”

“A current case is a classic example … When in 2013 the agency received 127 reports of adverse effects from a single line of hair-care products called WEN, it discovered that the manufacturer, Chaz Dean, Inc., had been sitting on more than 21,000 complaints of hair loss and scalp damage associated with the products’ use. A class-action lawsuit filed by more than 200 women against the company and its infomercial producer Guthy-Renker was settled last year for $26.3 million. Yet the company claims that WEN hair care products are ‘totally safe’ and continues to sell them.”

“Unlike drugs, cosmetics can be sold based solely on manufacturers’ tests (or no tests at all) and claims for effectiveness and safety. Even the ingredients don’t have to be filed with the government. (Only color additives require premarket approval.).” Former FDA Chief Dr. Robert M. Califf comments: “It’s not known how much of these chemicals is absorbed through the skin and what effect they may have over a lifetime of use. The right studies of health effects have not been done.”

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