On January 1 of this year, the Humane Cosmetics Act of California came into effect in 2018, which prohibits the sale of cosmetics tested on animals. Both Illinois and Nevada have signed equivalent bills, with federal-level legislation that could be followed in the not-too-distant future. While this is an incredible milestone for the animal welfare community, as the United States is taking a major step in joining the global community of cruelty-free countries, its significance is also largely symbolic.
"It is noteworthy that the testing of cosmetics in animals is extremely rare since the industry moved away from this inhumane practice almost a decade ago," Mia Davis points out, Credo's director of environmental and social responsibility. Some exemptions will remain legal – such as in the case of medicines such as sunscreen, ingredients from previous tests or industries, as well as ingredients with special safety issues – but the efforts initiated by California, Illinois and Nevada should ensure that all cosmetic products containing sold will be cruelty-free from 1 January. & # 39; & # 39; Brands, of course, are not going to make a cruel version for California and another for the rest of the country, Davis argues.
The section of the HCA also gives an indication of the progress in the form of beauty reform, especially when it comes to label regulation. The politics of beauty labels – in terms of animal abuse but also consumer health – are heating up. Policy loopholes can lead to significant miscommunication between beauty markets and their customers. For example, a lack of uniformity between designating organizations allowed so-called cruelty-free trademarks (some of which publicly publicized cosmetic animal testing, such as Caudalie and Urban Decay) to legally sell to mainland China, where it led to compulsory cosmetic animal testing abroad in January.
If it were to succeed, the federal level of the HCA would address this type of contradiction. Victoria Katrinak, director of animal research and testing at The Humane Society of the United States, shares: "The new HCA language … would prohibit a company from putting a cruelty-free label on their product if tested … complies with foreign testing requirements. "She adds that although state-level legislation does not directly address labeling, businesses no longer & # 39; outsourced & # 39; can use data obtained from animal testing abroad to confirm the safety of their ingredients.
California bans the sale of animal-tested products altogether
Nars takes to Instagram to address the issue of animal testing in China
Beauty businesses lose their & # 39; cruelty-free & # 39; designation for selling products to China
Why does it matter? Because past experience proves that transparency is no longer lacking when the industry self-regulates. Misleading marketing toward ambiguous or inaccurate labels remains an ominous problem, questioning the government's practical, pro-business approach. Yet, a growing body of evidence and consumer demand is pushing the industry toward stricter ethical standards in beauty.
Various ethical dilemmas currently arise due to a lack of label review. Among the nail polish brands are complaints of & # 39; green wax & # 39; aimed at the brands that claim to exclude the "bad chemicals," and point to these & # 39; n-free labels omissions. But with no legal definition specifying which ingredients are toxic, some brands are taking liberties on how to label their formulas. & # 39; A seven-free polish can effectively & # 39; be cleaner than the ten-free, or even 16-free, counterpart of this inconsistencies in nail polish labels that leave consumers on their own to do extensive brand and ingredient research.
The recent documentary Toxic beauty portrays & # 39; another political battle over beauty labels; namely, Johnson & Johnson's decades-long resistance to warning labels on products containing talc. Despite evidence linking the contagion of talc through the carcinogenic asbestos to talc with cases of ovarian cancer in lifelong customers, the company is strictly behind sponsored studies to defend the safety of its products. & # 39; In fact, & # 39; a product needs to be tested in an unbiased laboratory and know the formulation and combinations of chemicals that interact with each other, to know what most people really know. in your (beauty) product. in our film, "says Phyllis Ellis, director of Toxic beauty.
& # 39; Another frequently cited loophole allows hidden phthalates (which may appear to be endocrine disruptors) to be revealed in products containing synthetic fragrance as an ingredient. Consumer watchdogs have emerged to offset the lack of government oversight, with organizations such as Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group to promote awareness and advocate for change. Without private endeavors by these consumer groups, we would be left to follow an industry full of unmistakable and hidden carcinogens, endocrine disorders and toxins in our beauty and personal care products.
& # 39; Safest & # 39; (probably means) use nothing with the word & # 39; fragrance & # 39; or & # 39; perfume & # 39; on the label, because these words alone can indicate hundreds of chemicals (some of which are harmful), "says Ellis. & # 39; Talk, asbestos, mercury, lead … Why is one of these products in products we rely on? wearing our skin, hair, lips? & # 39; And why, considering the detrimental effects it has on public health, do retailers, brands, experts, and advocacy groups remain to fight the battle for wellness in beauty alone?
According to Jessica L. Yarbrough, a beauty journalist who deals with cosmetic regulations, "most beauty industry labels are nothing but overblown marketing conditions; very few are regulated." (Editor's note: Yarbrough also appears frequently fashionista contributor.) She explains how these ethical issues arise when brands use words with vague definitions to impart a false sense of consumer security. Yarbrough notes that words and captions with concrete definitions (i.e., & # 39; vegan & # 39 ;, & # 39; & # 39; oil-free & # 39;) raise less red flags. However, labels with ambiguous definitions such as "clean", "green", "non-toxic", "organic" and "natural" – which are not legally defined – allow brands to benefit from health-conscious consumers who feel reassured. of product safety. In fact, the lack of regulatory oversight makes these meaningful terms meaningless. (There is a bill to define the term & # 39; legal & # 39; legal for this reason.)
The dangers of labeling do not stop there, but the matter is complicated. On the one hand, Yarbrough points out that & # 39; a sense of security is largely subjective and that the government may not be the appropriate entity to make such decisions. & # 39; Should the government decide what this means? & # 39; she asks: & # 39; Probably not … And even if they did, brands would find a way to find it new unregulated labels to snap on a bottle. & # 39;
Experts tend to agree that the role of government via legislation such as the HCA is to establish an ethical basis for the industry, and also agree that reform is urgently needed. "The law that regulates the beauty industry of about $ 90 billion is from 1938 and is only one and a half pages long," Davis emphasizes, adding, "it allows carcinogens into baby shampoos."
The need for improved beauty ethics has changed the entrepreneurial landscape, with the efforts of individual retailers, brands and groups to educate the public. In such a competitive market, it takes courage to take a public view to formulate and sell only those products that the research considers non-toxic. This is why beauty advocates emphasize transparency as a fundamental principle of the movement.
As the industry takes a long-standing view on animal welfare, similar advances are likely to be made in the name of human welfare in the next decade. & # 39; We talk about the safety and health of millions of Americans using these products, & # 39; write rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) of the aforementioned Natural Cosmetics Act. "My bill sets the standard for & # 39; natural & # 39; personal care products and does right by putting American consumers through transparency first." So far, two labels have been addressed – & # 39; cruelty-free & # 39; and & # 39; of course & # 39; – how much more do we have to go?