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The Personal Care Products Council Does Not Speak For The Nation’s Entire Cosmetics Industry

On Friday, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) issued a press release asking Congress to promulgate new cosmetics laws. As you can see, the release claims to represent the position of the “Nation’s Cosmetics Industry.”

Cosmetic Display

The Indie Beauty Network is composed of hundreds of manufacturers across this nation who are not members of PCPC, and we have been advocating for fair cosmetics laws for many years, most notably starting in 2008 with the circulation by the US House of Representatives Committee On Energy & Commerce of the draft of the FDA Globalization Act of 2008. (Note: If you click on that link, it will open a new window to a video with hundreds of comments, so it will take that page a few minutes to load. Comments on that post are closed.) Our efforts continued with the introduction in early 2009 of the FDA Globalization Act of 2009. I am a former cosmetics manufacturer and a former member of PCPC. (I terminated my membership when I closed my cosmetics company for the last time.)

PCPC is a well-respected and long-standing trade organization, and I applaud its efforts to advance the interests of its members. I also feel it is important to point out that they do not and cannot speak for the entire “nation’s cosmetics industry.”

History of PCPC

You can read a detailed history of PCPC at their website. As you can see, for decades, PCPC has been actively involved in the promulgation of regulations pursuant to the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which has not changed since it became law in 1938.

According to PCPC’s current website, PCPC’s annual membership dues start at $640 a year for companies with annual salon and retail sales of $500,000 or less. Dues increase to $2,050 per year if that figure increases, and they continue to climb based on sales figures. If a company’s annual sales figures exceed $2 billion, annual membership dues are $407,000.

PCPC Membership

Here are some examples of PCPC members, and some of their financials, as reported in 2009:

* L’Oreal: the company reported 2009 consolidated sales of € 17.5 billion, which translates into $22.6065 billion

* Avon: the company reported third quarter 2009 revenues of $2.6 billion.

* Procter & Gamble: the company reported net sales of $79,029 million in 2009

* Estee Lauder Companies, Inc.: the company reported 2009 net sales of $7,323.8 million

* Revlon: The company reported 2009 net sales of $1,295.9 million (see page 30)

Some of these company’s sales figures probably encompass products that are not cosmetics. Having said that, since cosmetics are undoubtedly the major portion of their consumer sales, these figures give an idea of the types of companies that PCPC represents.

They are not small and independent business owners.

(As a side note, when I first joined PCPC, it was called the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association . At that time (late 1990′s), the organization had a “Small Business Committee.” When I joined and sought to participate on that committee, I was informed that it has been disbanded.)

PCPC does not represent small and independent cosmetics companies.

Indie Beauty Network Members

Since IBN members are not publicly traded companies, they are not required to disclose sales figures. Even so, I assure you, their sales are nowhere near the figures cited above.

Currently, there are 860 dues paying IBN members, paying annual dues of from $125 to $175 per year, depending on their membership level. All IBN members, except for “Apprentice Members,” which are clearly identified in our member database, maintain current products liability insurance policies. Some of these policies are maintained through IBN’s insurance program and some members have procured their insurance on their own.

The Personal Care Products Council Does Not Speak For The Nation’s Entire Cosmetics Industry

The fact that PCPC does not speak for all cosmetics manufacturers is not a bad thing, so I want to make it clear that I am not bashing PCPC for its legislative advocacy position. I just think it’s important to point out that PCPC is not speaking for every cosmetics manufacturer in the nation.

In December 2009, along with Leigh O’Donnell of the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild (HSMG) and Lela Barker of Bella Lucce, and IBN member, I visited the PCPC to talk about the current cosmetics regulatory climate. PCPC representatives welcomed us into their offices and were kind enough to take a good portion of the morning to share some of their thoughts on the direction the cosmetics industry was going. At the end of our meeting, it was clear and stated that we agreed on some things, and that we did not agree on other things.

In a regulatory environment as complicated and significant as the cosmetics industry, not all industry stakeholders will agree on everything all the time. Having said that, there are some situations where there is more agreement than not. One such situation occurred earlier this year when IBN and its members, HSMG and its members and a host of multi-million dollar companies, cosmetics scientists, herbalists, aromatherapists, family owned retail stores, independent cosmetics sales representatives (for companies like Mary Kay) and many types of small companies opposed the Colorado Safe Personal Care Products Act, which was bad for consumers and bad for businesses both large and small.

The bill was defeated by a 7 to 4 vote.

I think it’s fair to say that PCPC serves its members in an admirable fashion, mainly because of its experienced executive staff which is supported by members with the ability to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to federal and state lobbying firms. For example, according to Source Watch, an encylopedia site maintained by the Center For Media and Democracy, during the second quarter of 2008 (the time period right after circulation of the draft of the FDA Globalization Act of 2008), PCPC spent $460,000, “‘to lobby on proposed regulations of cosmetics and other issues,” including “funding for the Office of Cosmetic Colors within the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the Food and Drug Administration,’ reported Associated Press.”

It is precisely because of the caliber of its members, and the resources (financial and otherwise) that they have, that you should know that PCPC does not speak for the nation’s entire cosmetics industry.

Indie Beauty’s Preliminary Response To PCPC’s Advocacy Positions

While you can read the entire text of PCPC’s release here, the chart below shows the highlights of their advocacy position and IBN’s preliminary response to it. Our response is “preliminary” because we have only seen PCPC’s press release and not the actual draft of the legislation they have proposed. Multiple parties are participating in the legislative overhaul and IBN’s position can and will likely change in some areas as new draft legislation proceeds.)

PCPC Position IBN Preliminary Position
Enhanced FDA Registration: all companies must register, file ingredient statements, and report “serious unexpected adverse events” This general statement does not specify what kind of filings are required, so it’s hard to develop even a preliminary position. In general, it is IBN’s position that the smallest startups should not have to comply with the same exact registration requirements as the nation’s largest cosmetics manufacturers
Set New Safety Levels: FDA should establish “safe levels” for trace ingredients IBN does not support any provisions requiring testing, including pre-market testing, that are not already required by current law
Safety Level Process: FDA should set “safety use levels” for ingredients on a specified time table IBN does not support any provisions requiring testing, including pre-market testing, that are not already required by current law
FDA Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Oversight: FDA would be required to review CIR findings to determine whether or not they are correct, and promulgate regulations based on findings IBN supports FDA continuing to work with CIR to evaluate the safety of ingredients, and share those evaluations with industry. IBN does not support any provisions requiring testing, including pre-market testing, that are not already required by current law.
Mandatory Industry-Wide Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP): “guidelines” should be made mandatory A “one-size-fits-all” approach must be avoided. Small companies making 10 jars of lip balm a day should not be required to comply with the same GMP as companies making 10 thousand jars of lip balm a day.

IBN Opposes New Cosmetics Laws That Do Not Contain Exemptions For Small Businesses

IBN has opposed and continues to oppose new legislation that does not contain exemptions or waiver provisions for small companies. Any “one-size-fits-all” laws are unfair because they do not take into account the unique and special circumstances pursuant to which small companies manufacture and sell their products.

If you need an example of the damage to small companies and consumers that “one-size-fits-all” laws can do, look no further than the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) The Act requires companies that make certain products for children under the age of 12 to spend thousands of dollars to test and certify that their products do not contain unsafe levels of lead and other toxic chemicals.

The CPSIA unduly burdened small companies with the exact same testing requirements as large companies, even though the small companies manufacturing practices (including ingredients, annual net sales and distribution chains) bore no resemblance to the manufacturing practices of the companies that were causing the problems Congress sought to curtail by making CPSIA the law of the land.

(Click here to listen to my interview with Michael Kushner, Esq., an attorney that at one time worked with small companies to fight CPSIA after it was passed. You’ll get a good idea from Attorney Kushner of how CPSIA was passed, and you’ll hear first-hand from the owners of some of the small manufacturers and retail stores whose businesses were threatened as a result of the law. Do you want the same thing to happen where cosmetics are concerned?)

We must work together to preserve the ability for American citizens to get a small business off the ground before having to comply with mountains of paperwork and other unnecessary requirements that don’t do anything to increase the safety of consumers, but which kill a start up before it can even sell its first products.

Do you want to live in a nation where a single mother like Jewel Lucas could not start a business and feed her five daughters?

“The things we make, make us.” As we watch American manufacturing industries dry up as our nation’s citizens suffer enormous job losses and critically challenging economic times, do we want our representatives to promulgate laws that make it nearly impossible for local companies to provided valuable products to their communities? I think not.

We must avoid another situation where new laws unnecessarily infringe on the ability of small businesses to participate in the cosmetics industry on a level playing field, all the while doing nothing to protect consumers from unsafe cosmetics. Any new legislation must be carefully tailored to take into account the unique contributions small and family owned businesses are making not only in the cosmetics industry, but also in their communities and the nation as a whole.

What Else Is Happening

It is my understanding that, tomorrow, the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics will release a video that they say will share information about “toxic chemicals in cosmetics and [what] their impact on our health ….” You can watch a teaser of the video at the Indie social site at this link. Produced along with Annie Leonard, producer of “The Story Of Stuff,” this new cosmetics video is poised to support CFSC’s efforts to introduce legislation which I understand will include a requirement that all cosmetics companies conduct pre-market testing of their cosmetics (like drug companies must do), and that all cosmetics companies pay an annual user fee for the privilege of manufacturing and selling cosmetics in this country. (You will recall that the 2008 draft contained an annual fee of $2,000 for cosmetics manufacturers, and and additional annual fee of $10,000 for companies that imported cosmetics ingredients from outside the United States.)

What You Can Do

Whether you are a small business owner of any kind, a cosmetics manufacturer, someone who is thinking of launching a cosmetics business, or even a person who likes to buy cosmetics from small companies, there are things you can do to preserve the right for small and family owned cosmetics businesses to be able to compete on a level playing field. Here are three things you can do to get started today!

  1. Comment on the blogs of your favorite Indie cosmetics companies. Let them know that you love their products, and that they can count on your support in this effort to preserve fairness for small business owners. To find the FaceBook pages and blogs of your favorite IBN members, visit our member directory where you can search for them by state and company name.

  2. Subscribe to this blog. You can subscribe via email or RSS (you can take your pick at the link) for updates on cosmetics legislative issues.

  3. Join the social networking site of Indie Business Social Network. Once you join (it’s free to join the social network), and then click on Advocacy Leaders to meet the team of IBN members who have volunteered to lead efforts to ensure that any new cosmetics legislation is sensibly tailored to serve consumers without unnecessarily putting small companies out of business.

  4. If you are a cosmetics manufacturer, click here to join the Indie Beauty Network. As a member, you can take a leadership role and play an active part in formulating and driving our advocacy efforts. Whether you sell products on your own website, at local markets and retail stores in your area, in spas and boutiques around the nation, on etsy, at FaceBook, on Artfire, or anywhere else on the Web, your business is being affected RIGHT NOW by a new cosmetics law which I believe will be introduced into Congress in very short order — perhaps as soon as later this week.

  5. Don’t get caught napping while laws affecting your business are being discussed! And don’t get caught napping while any small business in your community is facing the possibility of passage of unfair laws that would decimate not only their business, but your community!

If you are a member of IBN, let everyone know in the comments section below. If not, join IBN today so we can step up our efforts to advocate for laws that protect consumers without unnecessarily decimating your cosmetics business! Our membership application is here.

If you have questions about the application or any of the legislation or advocacy position taken by IBN, please leave them in the comments section. I will respond to them as quickly as I can.

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