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Skin Care—Then and Now: Product and Professional Regulations

By: Myra Y. Irizarry
Posted: January 2, 2013, from the January 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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The intended use of skin care products influences the classification of that product. The Wheeler-Lea Act, mentioned previously, gave the FTC the authority to regulate advertising claims of FDA-regulated, nonprescription personal care products. Marketing a skin care product with a drug claim or a drug with a cosmetic claim can result in warning letter from the FDA.

Regulations by state

Challenges facing skin care regulation emerge when the process of compliance differs from the standards set in place by the federal government. This is the case with skin care regulation in some individual states. How to regulate and what to regulate must be clear. Over-regulation could have a negative effect and derail the goals of legislation.

Currently in California, proposed regulations for compliance of the Green Chemistry Initiative have caused concern for many industries, including skin care manufacturers, distributors and retailers. The potential impact, positive or negative, of the Green Chemistry Initiative is not yet clear, but the main purpose of the regulations are to identify chemicals of concern used in manufacturing, and find alternatives to lessen environmental and public health impacts. Additional information regarding California’s Green Chemistry Initiative can be found at

Inconsistency with licensing regulations across states also impacts the scope of practice for estheticians. From the hours required to complete programs/school, and continuing education requirements to licensing reciprocity, it is clear that inconsistent regulation from one state to the next poses a continued challenge to the professional beauty industry, as well as skin care professionals.

The Safe Cosmetics Alliance

Currently, the FDA maintains a voluntary registration program for cosmetics and skin care products. Newly proposed legislation supported by the Safe Cosmetics Alliance (SCA), which is made up of various industry groups, would enhance the FDA’s authority over personal care products. The Alliance was formed to encourage and support science-based legislative and regulatory policies that enhance current consumer safeguards and strengthen FDA oversight of cosmetic and personal care products to ensure continued product safety. The Cosmetic Safety Amendments Act of 2012 (HR 4395), would promote innovation and growth, and maintain high safety standards for the nation’s beauty and personal care industry. Additional details regarding the Safe Cosmetics Alliance, and the Cosmetic Safety Amendments Act can be found at

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