Report it to the FDA.

Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – Internal Medicine this week found adverse reactions from cosmetic products are seriously underreported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Over a period of 12 years from 2004-2016, there were on average 400 adverse reactions to cosmetic products reported each year. In contrast, one company alone received 21,000 complaints of adverse reactions from consumers about their hair conditioner products. The FDA received 127 complaints about the same products.

The journal article is available here: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2633256

Use this news

Cosmetics are defined by the FDA as "articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance" (FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)).  This includes skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, nail polish, eye and face makeup, cleansing shampoos, hair dyes, and deodorants, as well as any substance intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product.

Have you ever had a bad reaction to a cosmetic products? Given the sheer number of these products we use on a regular basis, it’s probably pretty safe to assume you have. Now, think about what you did when it happened - Did you register a complaint with the FDA, contact the company, bring the product back to the store or just throw it away?  Chances are good you either returned it or threw it away. Maybe a few of you contacted the company. But, how many registered a complaint with the FDA? Based on the results of the research above, we all need to be more vigilant in doing this for each other and here’s why -  

        There is no FDA, approval process for cosmetics before they         can be sold, as there is for drugs. Instead, the cosmetic                     companies are legally responsible to ensure their products             are safe. However, the companies are not legally required to         conduct safety testing of any  products or ingredients and if         they do test, they are not required to share the results with             FDA.    

So, the next time you have an adverse reaction to a cosmetic product, bring it back to the store, but also use the link below to register a complaint with the FDA.

For more information:

Food and Drug Administration

To report a cosmetic related complaint

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Data base of Adverse Events -

FDA authority over Cosmetics



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