Revlon came under fire last week after the Breast Cancer Fund and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics teamed up with online women’s group UltraViolet to demand the brand stop selling “make-up laced with cancer-causing chemicals to the public, all while marketing themselves as a company fighting breast cancer.”
The letter-writing campaign came after a survey carried out by the NGOs allegedly found Revlon cosmetics to have contained 'cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting chemicals'.
In response to this, senior vice president of corporate communications for Revlon's parent company, Christine Taylor deemed the campaign as “false and misleading” as the chemicals were neither “used by Revlon" or “associated with cancer”.
And added that the brand recognizes the importance of effective regulation to its consumers, so much so that it has "been working productively with the United States Congress for several years to strengthen the regulation of cosmetics products”.
According to the survey carried out by the NGOs, the chemicals uncovered included Butylated compounds (BHA, BHT) said to have been found in hair dyes and lip gloss, Quaternium-15 in mascaras, pressed powders and eyeliner, p-Phenylenediamine found in hair dye, and carbon black in eyeliners.
“We demand Revlon take a stand against cancer and drop these chemicals from their products immediately,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet at the time.
The groups also called for online pressure, advertisements, calls, and in-person events to convince Revlon to develop a comprehensive “safe cosmetics policy” to protect women from chemicals linked to cancer and other adverse health effects.
Cosmetics regulation in the US...
In the US cosmetics are regulated by the FDA as outlined in the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The law requires that every cosmetic and personal care product and its ingredients be substantiated for safety before going to market, and that they contain no prohibited ingredients. Besides upholding the FDA regulations, however, most cosmetic manufacturers go beyond the requirements of the law and adopt additional non-governmental safety programs and technical standards established by cosmetic industry.
Cosmetic manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that products comply with the law before they are marketed. This process includes analyzing a cosmetic ingredient's testing and safety data. If the manufacturer is unable to substantiate the safety of a product, the law requires the product to carry a conspicuous warning.
The law provides severe penalties, including seizures, recalls, fines and bans for personal care products manufacturers that do not meet these strict safety standards. In the past, the FDA has exercised this power to limit or prohibit ingredients that it considers to be unsafe.