Natural Cosmetics Act to set legal definition of ‘natural’

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

the Natural Cosmetics Act would set a legal definition for the term ‘natural’ | © Getty Images \ (YayaErnst)
the Natural Cosmetics Act would set a legal definition for the term ‘natural’ | © Getty Images \ (YayaErnst)

Related tags Natural cosmetics Regulation legislation Ingredient suppliers Legal terms

The bill, introduced in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, would define and legislate the use of the word ‘natural’ and the term ‘naturally-derived’ for cosmetics and personal care labeling and marketing. Ingredient suppliers would be required to share testing data on any natural inputs and the FDA would have authority to call out beauty brands that misuse the term ‘natural’.

On November 5, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney from New York State and Representative Grace Meng, also from New York State, introduced the Natural Cosmetics Act.

The objective of the Act is to formally define the terms ‘natural’ and ‘naturally derived’ as they pertain to beauty and personal care products. And the premise for doing so seems to be ingredient transparency and consumer safety.

A legal definition of natural beauty  

According to a media release posted on Representative Maloney’s site, “Cosmetic products sold, labeled, or represented as ‘natural’ as defined by the bill must contain at least 70 percent natural substances, excluding water, to use the term.”

The Natural Cosmetics Act would put the onus of testing and demonstrating an ingredient’s naturalness on suppliers: “To maintain accountability the bill requires suppliers to conduct Carbon-14 testing which they must submit to manufacturers.”

And it provides for the FDA to intervene when cosmetics or personal care brands are misusing the term ‘natural’. “The bill would also give the FDA authority to issue a cease distribution order, public notice on the FDA website, and voluntary recall authority of any product deemed misbranded under this act,” ​explains the media release.

Initial industry support for the Natural Cosmetics Act

Beauty brands, retailers, ingredient makers and organizations are already stepping forward to endorse the bill.

Biotech beauty ingredient maker Aprinova has endorsed the bill (as have that company’s consumer brands Biossance and Pipette). Retailers Credo, Follain, Take Care, and Ivy Wild have endorsed it, as have brands including RMS, BaboBotanicals, EO Products, May Lindstrom Skin, NakedPoppy, OSEA and Beautycounter.

Beyond the endorsement “Beautycounter is mobilizing its base in support of the bill, including its clients and network of more than 45,000 Independent Consultants across all 50 states,” ​according to a press release circulated by the brand.

And organizations including The BeautyWell Project, National Women’s Health Network, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice stand behind the bill too.

The people advocating for change in beauty regulations

Beautycounter founder and CEO Gregg Renfrew is quoted in the media release on Maloney’s site and has been a vocal advocate and organizer for regulatory change in the cosmetics and personal care industry since 2013.

“Shopping for personal care products should be easy,” ​Renfrew, tells the press. “While words like 'natural' can signal a safer product, there are currently no industry standards. For years, Beautycounter has been asking Congress to create clear standards for marketing terms and so we are thrilled to support the Natural Cosmetics Act. This landmark bill sets clear and reasonable standards for companies who want to claim an ingredient or product is natural, while instilling confidence for today's savvy consumer.”

Explaining why he’s introduced the bill, Maloney say, “Right now, the FDA doesn’t consider it misbranding for companies to label products as ‘natural,’ even if they contain toxins like coal tar, asbestos, and other harmful chemicals. That’s just not right.”​ And he goes on to emphasize that, “We’re talking about safety and health of millions of Americans who use these products. My bill will set the standard for ‘natural’ personal care products and do right by American consumers by putting transparency first.”

Representative Meng sees the proposed act in a similar light: “I am proud to join my colleague Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney in introducing the Natural Cosmetics Act,”​ says Meng in the media release. “Increasing protections, transparency and oversight of personal care products is desperately needed, and this legislation would go a long way towards ensuring strict standards for items claiming to be ‘natural.’ In Congress, I have worked to improve the safety and transparency of cosmetic products, menstrual hygiene products and other consumer goods. I am now proud to help champion this legislation as well. All Americans deserve nothing less than full transparency and accountability from companies that market their products as ‘natural.’ I look forward to this important bill moving through the House, and I urge all of my colleagues to support it.”



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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