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The Safety of Cosmetics- Understanding Regulations and Risks


Women use various types of beauty products on their skin, hair, and nails every day. Are these chemicals safe? And how does the government regulate them?

Cosmetics and skincare products sold on the market are classified as general consumer products and are regulated under Chapter 456 of the Consumer Product Safety Ordinance. The ordinance stipulates that manufacturers, importers, and suppliers must ensure that their products meet the “general safety requirements” specified in the ordinance. According to this provision, the products must meet a reasonable level of safety. However, with thousands of skincare products on the market, regulatory agencies simply do not have the resources to verify the safety of each product. Fortunately, not many products have safety issues, thanks to the power of the market.

Consumers vote with their wallets. If a product is ineffective or causes problems, they will not buy it again. Additionally, they may influence their friends’ purchasing decisions. Poorly performing products are quickly eliminated from the market by the invisible hand of the market, efficiently screening a large number of products without increasing the burden on taxpayers. Of course, this method is only suitable for low-risk products, such as cosmetics or skincare products. High-risk products, such as drugs, require stricter regulation.

Some beauty products, such as those used on the eyelids and lips, should be more strictly regulated. Products used on the eyes can enter the eyes and affect vision, while products used on the lips can be absorbed by the body. However, the most controversial issue may be the level of preservatives in the products. Preservatives effectively inhibit the growth of bacteria, and bacteria in the products can cause skin infections. If applied to the eyes, there is a greater chance of eye infection and impaired vision. However, some studies have shown that some preservatives can be absorbed by the skin, affecting female hormones and increasing the risk of cancer. Is it possible to have a product without preservatives? The vast majority of products on the market take three to six months from production to reaching consumers, and consumers are more likely to use them for two to three months at home. Without preservatives, bacteria growth cannot be prevented.

To protect their health, consumers need to choose trusted brands and do their homework to learn about product ingredients and information. Be a savvy consumer!