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The Great Divergence: Skincare Ingredient Regulations between USA and Europe Explained

congress meeting

The skincare industry has witnessed an intriguing regulatory divergence between the United States and Europe. The shocking aspect of this divergence is the permissive stance of the United States toward certain ingredients, which are otherwise banned in European countries. Vermont Skincare Company was founded upon learning the shocking truth that the United States states allows over 1300 banned ingredients to be used in our cosmetic industry, and skincare products. The ripple effect of these hazardous ingredients on ourselves, children, and unborn children, is alarming.

The Regulatory Landscape

USA: A Free-For-All Approach

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration, (FDA) is the governing body responsible for regulating cosmetics, including skincare products. The FDA's regulatory framework is notably, less stringent compared to Europe. The fundamental reasons, for this include:

  1. Historical Precedence: the US cosmetic regulations, primarily guided by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic act of 1938, have not undergone significant updates in decades. This has led to more of a free-for-all approach to new ingredients.

  2. Industry-Lead Self-Regulation: the US largely relies on the cosmetic industry to self regulate. Companies are responsible for the safety of their products and ingredients before they hit the market, without the requirement for FDA premarket approval.

  3. Strict Labeling Requirements: the EU mandates stringent labeling, that includes the list of all ingredients in order to enhance consumer awareness and safety.

The Implications of Divergent Regulations

The divergent regulations have substantial implications for consumers, manufactures, and global trade

  1. Consumer Safety: European consumers benefit from arguably higher safety standards, due to the banning of ingredients that have been determined to be harmful. US consumers, however, may be exposed to ingredients that are restricted in Europe that contain many health concerns.

  2. Market Dynamics: US manufacturers have more leeway in formulation, potentially leading to innovation, however, this creates barriers for the US products being allowed in the European market.

  3. Global Harmonization Challenges: this discrepancy poses challenges for global brands that must reformulate products to meet the regulatory standards in other countries.

The Reality

How to navigate forward

The contrast in skincare ingredient regulations between the United States, and Europe highlights a critical debate about consumer safety and industry regulations. While the US approach offers more flexibility for manufactures, it arguably comes at a cost of the stringent consumer safety measures seen in European countries. Moving forward, the key question remains: should the US adopt a more precautionary stance, similar to the EU, to align better with the global safety standards? This ongoing debate will continue to shape the future of the skincare industry, and consumer safety.

To best protect you and your family from hazardous skincare ingredients, search the database at: to learn more about the products, and ingredients that you use. Here, you will also find all of the EWG Verified Vermont Skincare Company products.

EWG is actively bringing this to Congress to get America to raise the bar. Witness their passion in this video, and follow the movement: #BeautyMadeBetter


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