Legislation: Update on Advocacy Efforts

On April 20th, Senators Diane Feinstein (CA) and Susan Collins (ME) introduced S. 1014, The Personal Care Products Safety Act. The bill was drafted to update The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 and was intending to give the FDA more funding and oversight over the cosmetic industry.

As many of you know, the HSCG has been involved in legislative advocacy at the Federal level since 2008, when it first became known that Congress was interested in updating the current regulations that govern the cosmetic industry. Since 2010, our association has been under contract with a DC Advocate who acts on our behalf and with us to represent the interests of the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry. We frequently attend meetings with members of Congress to raise awareness about the HSCG, the industry and the businesses that make it up. At every meeting we try to share samples of handcrafted soap and cosmetics.

In the fall of 2014, we became aware that Senator Feinstein (D-CA) was interested in introducing a bill aimed at updating current cosmetic regulations. We subsequently had numerous in person and phone meetings with staff from both Senators Feinstein and Collins offices to go over the bill language and to provide information on the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry.

Chairman Vitter sends “Dear Colleague” letter

We have had numerous meetings with the Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee. Chairman Vitter felt so strongly about our issues that he wrote a “Dear Colleague” letter which was sent to the HELP Committee Chairmen, Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member, Patty Murray, as well as to the bill sponsors, Senator Feinstein and Senator Collins. The text of this letter is below (or you can view it here):

 

Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, Sen. Feinstein, and Sen. Collins:

While I applaud efforts to update The Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act of 1938 to protect consumers and streamline industry compliance, I am concerned that the Personal Care Products Safety Act (S. 1014) does not contain adequate small business protections and would redefine the definition of small businesses unfavorably. This would negatively affect a handmade cosmetic industry comprised largely of women-owned microbusinesses with 1-3 employees. As chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I have the responsibility to ensure that we do not saddle small businesses with unnecessary regulations and requirements that could make an already-challenging regulatory environment even more burdensome.

My primary concern is that the legislation would require every business with more than $100,000 in gross annual sales to register their facility and report their ingredientsto the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The “facilities” specified in the bill are often in the owner’s personal residence. In addition, businesses with more than $500,000 in gross annual sales would be required to pay the FDA an annual user fee. Both of these requirements are overly burdensome to the approximately 250,000 small business enterprisesthat operate in this market space and employ more than 700,000 people, including 4,081 businesses in Louisiana and 24,593 businesses in California, for example. These small businesses rely on the ability to change and make custom formulationsto stay competitive. Given the great number of small handcrafted cosmetic manufacturers in the United States, this legislation would cause disproportionate harm to the class with less than one percent of the cosmetic market share. Finally, under Section 3 of the Small Business Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is tasked with using its expertise and the best available data to establish business size  standards that reflect the differing characteristics of various industries and to consider other factors deemed relevant by the Administrator. Under the most recent SBA size standard guidelines, manufacturers of soap and other detergents are defined as those businesses containing 1,000 or fewer employees. This bill would create ill advised, arbitrary definitions that would cause confusion and harm to small business owners.

For the above-referenced reasons, I oppose this legislation in its current form, and would need to see substantial modifications and improvements to the relevant provisions before agreeing to support it. Thank you for your consideration.

The handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry in the United States is made up of over 300,000 small and emerging businesses in all fifty states. A large portion of these businesses are women-owned and operated and they produce safe soap and cosmetics. The HSCG supports safe cosmetics and helps to educate the membership and the industry n the current regulations governing cosmetics. We feel strongly that any new legislation aimed at updating the current regulations must take into consideration these small and emerging businesses and provide adequate provisions for them to be able to continue to thrive and be assets to their communities and local economies.

Chairman Vitter’s letter and his support of our industry and small businesses is a great stride forward for our legislative advocacy. The HSCG, along with our DC Advocate, Debra Carnahan of Carnahan Global Consulting, will continue to meet with Members of Congress to make them aware of how this legislation, if passed, would adversely affect the small businesses of the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry.

We will continue to keep you updated on any news; in the meantime, you can visit our page, What We Are Doing, to learn more about the HSCG and advocacy efforts.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Products

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The world is an ever-changing place, with ever-changing needs and constantly evolving beliefs. You may have noticed that vegan practices and products have enjoyed a boost in popularity; but do you know what constitutes a vegan product?

A Vegan Story 

Veganism is defined by the Vegan Society as a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude-as far as possible and practicable-all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals. 

There is a common misconception that being a vegan and being a vegetarian are the same thing, but there are many differences. Vegans, for example, exclude dairy, eggs, and honey/beeswax while vegetarians may not.

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Veganism, Soap and Cosmetics 

Although there are many ingredients that vegans choose not to use, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make an incredible vegan-friendly product that everyone, even those who are not vegan, will love! For example, castile soap is considered vegan because it does not contain any prohibited ingredients, and let’s be honest; who doesn’t love castile soap? If you are making this product an adhering to vegan guidelines in regards to how your essential oils are harvested for example, you can market your product as vegan without making any substantial changes.

There are quiet a few ingredients that are not acceptable for those who are vegans; although we are not going to provide a complete list here, here are some ingredients that you will want to avoid if you would like to promote a vegan-friendly line.

Gelatin

Lactose

Lard

Mono-and di-glycerides

Shellac

Vitamin D3

Whey Powder

Beeswax

Honey

Lanolin

Emu Oil

Keratin

Musk

Pearls

Tallow

Caviar

Silk

Cashmere 

You will also want to avoid any colorants or ingredients made from insects, as well as any products that might have been produced using animal derived GMOs or genes; this can include usage in both the ingredient itself and the manufacturing process.

On the flipside, there are also many ingredients that are vegan friendly. Here are a few that may apply to you and your business:

Aloe Vera

Castor Oil

Citric Acid

Cornstarch

Corn Syrup

Lauric Acid

Paraffin

Pectin

Salicylic Acid

Vegetable Glycerin 

This is a sample list of ingredients; the rule of thumb for recognizing vegan-friendly ingredients is primarily an emphasis on vegetable derived ingredients and ingredients that specify that no animals were harmed or tested on. Keep in mind that although a product may be vegetable derived, that does not automatically mean it was not tested on animals; if you have any questions, be sure to reach out to your manufacturer for detailed information on the manufacturing processes used.

Although most handcrafters do not test their products on animals, it is important to note that any ingredients that you use that may be test on animals will also exclude the finished product from being considered vegan. Be careful; a product or ingredient can be marketed as cruelty-free or animal-friendly but still contain animal derived components.

 

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Palm Oil and Veganism 

For many reasons, palm oil has come under scrutiny over the past decade; chief of the concerns among vegans and non-vegans alike is the harvesting practices of unethical palm oil production companies. These companies use destructive harvesting techniques that destroy the habitats of many animal species, some of them endangered. Because it is very difficult to know which companies employ these practices and which ones are ethical, it can be a bit difficult to include palm in a vegan line. Although palm in and of itself is vegan because it is derived solely from a plant, the questionable practices behind its production make it a hard sell for a vegan customer. If you are confident that your palm oil is sourced responsibly and free of cruelty, there is no harm in marketing it as vegan; just be prepared to substantiate its vegan friendliness if you do this.

How to Tell if Your Ingredients are Vegan Friendly 

Because veganism has become more commonplace, many companies label their products to reflect that they are vegan-friendly. Sometimes, a simple glance at the label will tell you whether something is vegan; it may have the Certified Vegan Logo or may have another symbol or sign that signifies it as vegan-friendly. When you look into ingredients, also check for allergen information; sometimes, an unwanted ingredient may not be listed, but products produced with or exposed to milk, whey powder, eggs, etc., are not suitable for use in vegan-friendly products.

Marketing Your Vegan Products 

Marketing your products as vegan will attract more vegan and environmentally conscious customers to your table, website, or both. Make sure that you have done everything possible to ensure that your ingredients and finished product truly are vegan. It is true that most likely, a customer will not challenge you based on the ingredients you have listed, but this does not mean that you should substitute lard or animal fats and oils for a more expensive, vegetable based ingredient. Remember that your customers are trusting you to be truthful in your labels, and it would be unwise for you as a small business owner to be discovered as marketing fraudulent items.

There are a few organizations that supply vegan logos for an application fee. Vegan Action, for example, will provide use of the Certified Vegan Logo with fees based on a sliding scale of your annual income. This logo and application are for one product; you would need to apply for the logo and certify each of your product individually. There is also the Vegan Trademark provided by the Vegan Society that uses a similar process. These kinds of designations can help customers searching for a vegan product immediately identify the integrity of your vegan product.

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Final Thoughts 

Expanding your product line in any way is exciting and opens the door for many creative opportunities! Many handcrafters shy away from the production of vegan products because it is perceived as difficult, but that is not always the case! If you would like to make a vegan product, do your research; this can include web searches or this can mean talking to a friend/acquaintance who is a practicing vegan. No matter what research you do, make sure that you are labeling your products truthfully and accurately, and you will enjoy a new customer base while filling a need!

Common Scents: Eucalyptus

Welcome to our  series, Common Scents. Common Scents is a collection of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting.

In this edition of common scents, we will take a deeper look at a fan favorite: eucalyptus oil.  Much like many of the oils we will discuss, eucalyptus has an extensive history of medicinal and healing use.  (It is important to note that while reading the following article; the FDA has not approved eucalyptus oil to be used for medicinal purposes, therefor this article is not promoting its use for that purpose.)

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Eucalyptus is a fast growing evergreen tree with over 700 species that originates in Australia.  Eucalyptus Globulus, or the “blue gum” tree is the most common and main source of eucalyptus oil production.  The “Blue Mountains” in Australia are named such because on warm days, the eucalyptus trees release volatile organic compounds that create a smog-like haze over the forests.  The eucalyptus tree is also found other areas of the world such as India, Europe and South Africa.

The first known records of eucalyptus oil date back to 1788 when Surgeon General John White and the First Fleet arrived in Australia. Surgeon General White first documented in his journal the “olfactory” or aromatic oil present in the eucalyptus tree.  At that time, a sample of the oil was sent to Sir Joseph Banks of England for testing.  Meanwhile, the local aboriginal tribes were well aware of the many beneficial qualities of the eucalyptus oil and had already been using it for gastrointestinal issues, treatment of diarrhea and even as an antiseptic effective for treating wounds!  As time passed, the uses of eucalyptus oil multiplied and the belief in it’s healing abilities grew.  Many people believed Eucalyptus could be used in the following capacities:

  • An antiseptic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Astringent
  • Deodorant
  • Decongestant
  • Fever reducer
  • Pain reliever

Eucalyptus creates a cooling and refreshing effect on the body and mind.

At the request of Baron Ferdinand von Mueller, Victorian pharmacist Joseph Bosisto began investigating the essential oils of the Eucalyptus.  By 1852, the essential oil industry in Australia began.  Bosisto built several distilleries and was know as Bosisto’s Oil of Eucalyptus and was selling eucalyptus oil all over the world.

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Fast forward to modern day. Have you ever checked out the ingredients listed on your toothpaste, mouthwash, or other oral hygiene products?  Chances are, eucalyptus is one of the main ingredients.  Or perhaps you have a fresh, crisp, almost mentholated smelling soap, lotion or scrub?  Eucalyptus has become one of the most commonly found oils on the shelves of manufacturers and hand crafters alike because of its versatility.

Aroma therapists use eucalyptus in situations where someone may be prone to illness due to emotional stress or anxiety because the aroma is know to dispel melancholy and raise the spirits, as well, it is also used to clean the air of negative energy that have been collected.

The use of eucalyptus oils is growing in popularity. One of the main reasons is because it blends well with many other essential oils including Lavender, Lemongrass, Pine Tea Tree, Juniper, Spearmint, Thyme, Rosemary, and Cedarwood, to name a few.

Differing from other oils, eucalyptus oil may not be as rich in history, but its value in the handcrafted and homeopathic fields out weigh many.  Keep in mind, some of these claims may or may not be treucalyptus3ue, it is imperative that you follow the FDA’s guidelines for labeling; this includes making claims that are not approved by the FDA. Our How-To Library contains a great podcast about labeling by expert Marie Gale; check it out by visiting: http://www.soapguild.org/how-to/legal-compliance/hscg-radio-labeling-guidelines.php.