If you read blogs or websites like mine about bath & beauty, you may have already heard about the "Safe Cosmetics Act". The name in and of itself sounds like something we'd all like to support right? Unfortunately the name of the bill is very miss leading. Thankfully they are people stepping up to the plate against it such as Lee Doren (who made the video above), The Indie Beauty Network, The Handcrafted SoapMakers Guild, and OpposeSCA.com. More good news is that the bill hasn't been voted on yet and there's still time to have changes made. If you live in the US please find out who your representative isand let them know that you don't agree with how the bill is currently drafted. Check out the OpposeSCA.com website for templates of letters.
So if the good news is that the bill can still be changed, what's the bad news?The bad news is that if this bill is passed it will wipe out every small, indie, and handmade bath & beauty company currently operating in the US! And if us Canadians have learned anything from the past, it's that Canada often follows suit with the US. What does that mean? That means that every Canadian small, indie, and handmade bath & beauty company will eventually be effected if Canada also passes similar legislation. Even if it only passes in the US, my business will be substantially effected as most of my online sales are to the US, and if the FDA will have to crack down on national products, don't you think they will be also closely monitoring imports?
If you want to read the full draft of the bill you can do so here.
Bramble Berry is opposed to the bill for the following reasons:
1. It is unnecessary. The cosmetic industry is a safe industry with a wide variety of choice on the marketplace for consumers.It is already illegal to manufacture unsafe cosmetics and is already illegal to not fully label ingredients or contact information on products.
2. This bill would, handicap small manufacturing business. In a time of economic uncertainty and distress for millions of Americans, this is untenable. For some families, the income from the Farmer's Market may be what they are living on now.
3. The reporting requirements are 'big brother.' They ask for your annual sales, number of employees and even the names and addresses of your vendors.
4. 'Detectable' trace elements must be included on labels. Since almost everything is detectable, labeling will be confusing to end consumers (even more than it is already). So, "Water" on a label would look like "Aqua, Arsenic, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Nickel, Silver, Zinc" (and if you live in my town, you'd also have to include caffeine, oral contraceptives and antibiotics in your water labeling requirement).
5. Ingredients that are considered carcinogenic when ingested (eaten) will be unable to be used in skin care products. Ingredients that are 'found to induce birth defect's when ingested or inhaled will be banned as well. You will be able to eat apples but not put them in skin care products. That's because apples contain small amounts of cyanide. Lucky for us our body can detoxify cyanide in small amounts. But under this law, you still wouldn't be able to put apples into your products even though you can safely eat apples.
6. Safety Statements, ingredient listing and registration information must be listed for each and every cosmetic, soap, lotion and potion must be made up. With a small scale manufacturer who is making a few of this and a few of that, this is a paperwork nightmare. It does not allow for easy changing of recipes when formulating and trying new recipes.
7. There is no full exemption for small businesses. Small businesses often launched because of the notion that cosmetics could be made with a larger proportion of more desirable ingredients than have typically been used by traditional cosmetics manufacturers
I fully believe that the backers of the bill are well-meaning and trust that this bill will have more changes before it is voted on. But it's up to us to explain what changes need to be made to protect small business. Don't just take my word and interpretation of the bill as gospel, read the bill for yourself here and start the education and change process today.
While we are unquestionably in favor of safe cosmetics, this bill contains a number of unnecessary provisions that would decimate our nation's small scale cosmetics manufacturers without any benefit at all to consumers.
This bill treats a company making 100 bottles of lotion each year the same way it treats a multi-billion dollar, multi-national company making 100 bottles of lotion each second. It is grossly unfair, unduly burdensome, intrusive and unnecessary in a number of aways, among them the following:
HR 5786 is unnecessary. Small cosmetics companies have a history of producing safe cosmetics pursuant to current laws that require companies to clearly identify the products they sell, provide all manufacturer contact information and truthfully label products with ingredients.
HR 5786 contains onerous registration requirements. HR 5786 contains intrusive and unnecessary requirements that would force small companies to disclose to the federal government information that the government does not need, which is unduly burdensome for small companies to provide and which does nothing to protect consumers from unsafe cosmetics. Specifically, in addition to having to register their company name and location, small companies would also have to file with the federal government product descriptions, product ingredients, trace ingredient in products, gross sales numbers, the name and contact information of the suppliers of the ingredients used in their cosmetics and their number of employees.
HR 5786 contains unnecessary labeling requirements. Current cosmetics laws already require small companies to list ingredients on labels. HR 5786 expands labeling requirements to include trace elements found inside those ingredients. For example, a product containing water (or any other natural ingredient), would have to contain a label listing the water and also every other trace element inside that water. (Water contains a number of chemicals, including nickel, lead, copper, silver and dozens more -- depending on the water source.) Requiring small companies to include such a list on each label is onerous and unnecessary.
HR 5786 requires small companies to conduct unnecessary scientific testing. Under the bill as drafted, small companies would be required to test all of the products they make, and be in a position to produce data to the federal government about the ingredients, components of ingredients, and also, components that may be produced when known ingredients are combined. Those are impossible (and unnecessary) standards.
HR 5786 is anti-American. At a time when our Congressional representatives should be seeking to revitalize the American economy, especially where manufacturing is concerned, HR 5786 would eliminate it in cites and towns in every state across this nation.
HR 5786 specifically allows all 50 states to pass stricter requirements.Even with the sweeping nature of HR 5786, it specifically states that each state can pass additional laws as it sees fit. This provision is Congressional permission for each state to pass whatever laws it wants, creating a patchwork quilt of laws that no small company can comply with. If Texas adds labeling or manufacturing requirements that are different from HR 5786, and also different from other states, then no company will be able to sell so much as a quarter-ounce tube of lip balm without first checking to make sure they are not in violation of 51 separate cosmetics laws. No small company can do that (and most large ones can't either).
HR 5786 does not contain an exemption for small business owners. Many laws in this country exempt small companies because compliance would put them out of business without any real benefit to society. The same is true in this case. HR 5786 treats the smallest company making 50 products a day the same way it treats our nation's multi-million dollar companies. While there is an exemption from the annual payment of fees, the testing and paperwork requirements in this bill place burdens on very small businesses that are unfair, overreaching, unnecessary, offensive and intrusive.
America's Small Businesses
Our nation's small cosmetics companies are in large part launched by men and women who want to create alternatives to products that can be purchased at "Big Box" stores. They use a high proportion of naturally occurring ingredients when compared to larger companies, and they are not producing cosmetics on a large scale at all. And that's why their customers love their products, and that's why Congress must make sure that it passes no law that puts them out of business without any benefit to consumers. This is one such law.
Small companies are the backbone of our nation's economy. In fact, today, they are sustaining it almost single-handedly. As unemployment figures continue to rise, small companies are hiring employees, contractors, vendors and other small scale service providers to help their businesses grow.
At farmer's markets, locally owned spas and boutiques and in the retail stores that small cosmetics manufacturers are opening everywhere, consumers are able to choose to buy a wide and appealing variety of cosmetics to suit their personal needs. They can choose from products made by big companies and they can choose from products made by smaller companies. That choice will be removed if HR 5786 becomes law. if that happens, consumers will be left with a small selection of products sold only by our nation's largest retail chains.
America is filled with talented innovators and entrepreneurs who don't need a big bank loan or a huge line of credit to manage a profitable business.
Small cosmetics companies can continue to do their share to carry this nation, but not if HR 5786 passes.
It is the duty of our Congressional representatives to pass laws that are carefully tailored to deal with specific problems that need to be addressed on a national scale. HR 5786 is not carefully tailored to help anyone.
If HR 5786 as drafted becomes law, it will close multiple thousands of small companies immediately and in one fell swoop.