Women’s health groups to Congress: We need strong cosmetics standards

For Immediate Release
Contact: Evita Almassi, ealmassi@nwhn.org

Washington, D.C. –  Led by the National Women’s Health Network, 42 national, state, and local organizations united by their shared interest in lifting up the voices of women sent a letter today to the House Energy and Commerce Committee applauding the committee for working on a bipartisan discussion draft  to address cosmetics safety and calling on them to include the strongest possible safeguards to protect women’s health.

While several of the organizations signing today’s letter have long been active in the fight for safe cosmetics, many others have not previously engaged on this issue. They represent a new and growing groundswell of grassroots activism in response to overwhelming evidence that the current system has failed women.

Under current federal law, manufacturers aren’t required to use safe ingredients, list their ingredients, test their products, use good manufacturing practices to prevent contamination, or even recall products they know are dangerous. As then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated in March, “To be clear, there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety.”

While unsafe, unregulated products endanger everyone, they pose a unique risk to women. Toxic ingredients found in cosmetics and other personal care products such as baby powder, vaginal douches, lotion, body sprays and perfumes, makeup, and hair dyes and straighteners have been linked to ovarian cancer, breast cancer, early onset of puberty, fibroids and endometriosis, miscarriage, poor maternal and infant health outcomes, diabetes and obesity,  and more.

As noted in the letter, the safety and health risks are even higher for Black women, who often have to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards, particularly in the workplace. Many of the products marketed to Black women and girls are among the most toxic tested in independent analyses.

“The fact that the most toxic products are those targeted to Black women and girls is sickening. This is a public health crisis” said M. Isabelle Chaudry, Senior Policy Manager at the National Women’s Health Network.

The letter labels the current lack of regulations a “public health crisis” and calls on the committee to include the rigorous, time-tested “reasonable certainty of no harm” safety standard in their legislation, ensure good manufacturing practices, protect consumers’ access to the courts, and make a multitude of less-visible decisions with vulnerable communities in mind.

Letter available here.


Signing Organizations

African American Breastfeeding Alliance of Dane County, Wisconsin

African American Health Network of Dane County, Wisconsin

Black Millennials 4 Flint

Black Women for Wellness, Los Angeles, California

Black Women’s Health Imperative

Breast Cancer Action

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

California Latinas for Reproductive Justice

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues

Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)

Endocrine Society

Environmental Working Group

EverThrive Illinois

Feminist Majority Foundation

Feminist Women’s Health Center, Atlanta, Georgia

Forward Together

Gender Justice, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Harambee Village Doulas, Madison, Wisconsin

If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice

In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice

Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health

Jewish Women International

Maroon Calabash, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

National Birth Equity Collaborative

National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH)

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Organization for Women (NOW)

National Women’s Health Network

New Voices for Reproductive Justice


Positive Women’s Network-USA

Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS)

SisterLove, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia

SisterReach, Memphis, Tennessee

SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Atlanta, Georgia

The Afiya Center, Dallas, Texas

The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health

WV FREE, West Virginia


The National Women’s Health Network is supported by our members and by choice we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. We bring the voices, concerns and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory table.