Saturday, July 24, 2010

'Safe Cosmetics Act' NOT So Safe For Small Biz

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010' (H.R. 5786) was introduced this week by Democrat Representatives Scharkowsky (Illinois), Markey (Massachusetts) and Baldwin (Wisconsin). The full version of the draft bill for you to read is here. This draft has not yet been voted on. There is still time to have changes made. Now is the time to educate yourselves and write your lawmakers.

Bramble Berry opposes this draft legislation as written recommends that you write your Representative with a customized message opposing this legislation as it is currently written (not sure who your Rep is? Click here to find out!). Add your details; make it personal and let them know that if this bill passes as it is currently written, that your business will be affected. Here's one example of a letter that you could write:

Dear Representative,

I am writing to express my concerns about H.R. 5786, the 'Safe Cosmetics Act'. I make lip balms, soaps and lotions and sell them at the local Farmer's Market. My business makes less than $5000 per year. I sell to pay for my daughter's piano lessons and my son's soccer camps every year. What I make augments my family's income and helps our quality of life. I make my soaps and lotions with common ingredients that you can find in your kitchen. For example, I have a great bar of soap that I make out of four ingredients: Olive Oil, Water, Lye and skin safe fragrance. H.R. 5786 has a bunch of extra reporting requirements that would be virtually impossible for me to comply with. I'm just one woman in a kitchen. I don't have a huge staff to help me. Plus, I often change my formulations based on the season and what my customers are asking for. Being nimble is a huge advantage for me and if I have to submit a new safety and ingredient affidavit for every product, that will take away one of my key advantages. Please don't support this legislation. It is well-meaning but is written in such a way that I won't be able to stay in business because I won't be able to keep up. Estee Lauder started at her kitchen table. Please don't take that opportunity away from me. 


Suzy Soaper
Suzy's Soaps

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. They even require you to log your proprietary formulas. It's not clear what information might be kept confidential or not.

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. Trace 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 trace amounts. But under this law and the 'trace elements' portion of the proposed bill, 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.

Updated 8/1: There is a petition against the 'Safe Cosmetics Act' here. Read the petition and sign it if you agree with the statements. The official Oppose SCA site is here. Curious about how a bill becomes law? There's a fantastic post about it here as it pertains to the 'Safe Cosmetics Act' in particular.