US FDA Inaction On Formaldehyde In Hair-Smoothing Products ‘Unconscionable,’ Petitioners Say
The Environmental Working Group and Women’s Voices for the Earth try again with a petition to the US Food and Drug Administration seeking a ban on use of formaldehyde and equivalents in heated hair-straightening products. This time they are joined by 75 concerned salon workers.
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Covington & Burling attorney Peter Barton Hutt brings historical perspective to the matter of cosmetics reform legislation in US Congress, which stalled out in 2020 after COVID hit the states. He advises companies to continue working to meet and exceed existing regulatory requirements "so that people can’t say that voluntary self-regulation doesn’t work."
Internal FDA emails obtained by the Environmental Working Group through a FOIA request indicate that the agency was moving toward rulemaking in 2016 to restrict or prohibit use of formaldehyde in heated hair-straightening cosmetics, but seemingly abandoned the initiative. That has Congress, NGOs and other stakeholders asking questions and renewing calls for cosmetics regulatory reform.
Starting in 2025, use of selected preservatives, phthalates and other ingredients already banned in Europe will be prohibited in cosmetics sold in California.