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Dark Circle Relief, Pro Ingredient Listing Laws, Naturals Defined and PABA

By: Rebecca James Gadberry
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the April 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 3 of 7

Some cosmetics are used in professional settings and are sold at retail outlets. When this is the case, the retail product must have the ingredient list printed on the outermost container, enabling the consumer to read it before making a purchase. Of course, you can ask the manufacturer for the ingredient list of a professional use-only product, but it is not required to supply it.

However, since June 24, 1988, manufacturers of professional products have been required, as part of their compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Organization (OSHA) Hazard Communication Standard, to supply Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to spas and other professional businesses. According to a joint report from the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors, Inc. (ICMAD), the National Cosmetology Association (NCA) and the former American Beauty Association, “These MSDSs must include the identity of certain ingredients in these products and a description of the nature of any potential hazard.”

These organizations also have requested that manufacturers voluntarily make accessible to professionals the same type of ingredient information that is available to consumers for their products. Some have complied, often presenting the ingredients in alphabetical order, instead of the normal most-to-least order, as a way of preventing proprietary details about their formulations from getting into the wrong hands.

Q. Now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set a standard for the term “organic,” has any government agency officially defined the word “natural” as it relates to cosmetics?

A .No. In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reportedly contacted 1,800 consumers randomly from the telephone book and asked them to define the word “natural” as it applied to such categories as foods and cosmetics. According to the story, they received 1,800 different definitions. Approximately 80% of those queried said that they thought “natural” had something to do with plants. As a result, to date, the FDA still has not published a definition of natural cosmetics and probably won’t in the foreseeable future.