Legislative Update – The Safe Cosmetics Act

On June 10th, I flew to Washington, D.C. to meet with Congressional staff from Representative Schakowsky, Markey and Baldwin’s offices.  I was invited to meet with them as a follow up to ongoing meetings that have been conducted over the past year and to hear the changes that they are proposing to make as a result of our active advocacy efforts.

Since our first meetings last July (after the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 was introduced) the Representatives’ staffs have kept the lines of communication open and have been very receptive to our input.  This meeting was no different;  I attended with our D.C. advocate Mary Anne Walsh of Roetzel and Andress who has been not only our eyes and ears in Washington, but also an advisor and strategist, introducing the industry to Members of Congress in both the House and Senate.

I can tell you now, without a doubt, that the HSMG’s voice is being heard on Capitol Hill.

After some lengthy discussions and negotiations in our recent meeting, it looks like the new draft of The Safe Cosmetics Act should include several provisions that are major victories for the HSMG and its members.  They are:


For registration of your facility or company and your products:

  • Any cosmetic company with under $2 million in gross aggregate sales per year will be exempt from FDA registration for both the company and products being made.
  • A company that makes between $2 million and $10 million in gross aggregate sales per year will register their company (facility) and their products annually.  There will be no registration fees and no change forms if you introduce a new product within that year.
  • A cosmetic manufacturer that has over $10 million in gross aggregate sales per year will register their company (facility) and their products and will be responsible for a registration fee to the FDA.  This fee will be determined by the FDA and will be based on gross sales.


  • All botanicals will be listed as what they are on the label and will not need to be broken down into their organic compounds.  For example, Coconut Oil will be Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil).
  • Also, the legislation will NOT require additional testing for products made using already tested, approved  and labeled ingredients.


The FDA will be charged with coming up with three categories of cosmetic ingredients:  Safe without limits, Restricted, and Prohibited.

  • All food-grade ingredients will be on the “Safe without limits list”.
  • Ingredients on the “Restricted list” may be used in cosmetics but will have restrictions on usage or quantity.
  • Ingredients on the “Prohibited list” cannot be used in cosmetics and will have a 2 year phase out period.
  • To facilitate compliance, the FDA will maintain an online site for companies to access information on the three categories of ingredients and will update regularly, including the addition of new ingredients after testing and determinations are made.


The soap exemption will remain the same as it is in the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. To familiarize yourself with this exemption please read this area of the FDA site.


I am very encouraged by the proposed changes and exemptions.  Likewise, I am very optimistic that the congressional leaders will continue to work with us and hear our concerns.   In the weeks ahead, we will remain in close contact with the bill’s sponsors to keep the lines of communication open and to make sure that the proposed changes and exemptions outlined above are, in fact, included in the new Safe Cosmetics Act.

What this all means is that our industry is no longer an unknown in DC.  Through countless hours of work on the part of many individuals and the input of our DC Advocates Mary Anne Walsh and Rick Limardo, we find ourselves possibly looking at a much more industry friendly version of The Safe Cosmetics Act.  We now know that at some point — whether this year or next or even further down the road – Congress will move ahead to pass safe cosmetics legislation.  The good news is that the HSMG is now a known stakeholder and Members of Congress are not only listening, but very willing to work with us.

I would personally like to thank the following individuals for their tireless work on this over the past couple of years and hope that we can continue to make a difference together in the future.  Our industry is stronger and our voice is louder when we work together.

  • Debbie May of Wholesale Supplies Plus
  • Kayla Fioravanti of Essential Wholesale
  • Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramble Berry
  • Marie Gale – HSMG Past President
  • Donna Maria Coles Johnson of Indie Beauty Network
  • Lela Barker of Bella Lucce

Please stay tuned to the HSMG Blog for further updates on The Safe Cosmetics Act, we will post them as they become available.

Leigh O’Donnell

HSMG President

An Update on The Safe Cosmetics Act in the 112th Congress

(L to R) Deborah May, HSMG President Leigh O’Donnell, Congressman Brad Sherman (CA), Feleciai Favroth, Marie Gale

In our continuing efforts to work with Members of Congress to advance the interests of the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild (HSMG), we would like to update you on the recent progress on the still evolving Safe Cosmetics Act in the 112th Congress.

After hearing the concerns of the HSMG in February and the promise to continue a dialogue with us on behalf of the HSMG, staff members of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky have been quite responsive in keeping us informed.  In our most recent communication, we learned that a number of the provisions of the original bill are being redrafted.  We are not surprised by this information based on the range of issues discussed in our February meeting.
Although we have not seen any of the new draft language, through our continued engagement with offices involved in drafting the bill, we are optimistic that we will get to see and comment on any proposed language that directly impacts HSMG and the industry.   Furthermore, we remain encouraged that our ongoing conversations with Congresswoman Schakowsky, her staff and our continuing outreach with other Members of Congress will result in more positive conversations and support for HSMG concerns as the legislative proposal is developed and finalized.

Members of Congress Hear From The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild

President Leigh O'Donnell, Debbie May and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4)

During the week of February 8th, I visited our nation’s capital for scheduled meetings with  several Republican and Democratic lawmakers representing Districts from New York to California.  I was joined by HSMG member and supporter, Debbie May of Wholesale Supplies Plus. Led by our Washington, D.C. advocates Mary Anne Walsh and Rick Limardo, over the course of two days we met with twelve Congressional offices to gather information, express our concerns, and educate Members of Congress and their staff about the impact the Safe Cosmetics Act would have on the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and the industry.

Of particular interest was our meeting with the Congressional staff of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9) and Congressman Ed Markey (MA-7) who were the lead cosponsors of last year’s Safe Cosmetics Act (H.R. 5786). Joining us at this meeting was Donna Maria Coles Johnson of The Indie Beauty Network.  Our meeting was productive and afforded us the opportunity to convey our concerns regarding the legislation and clarify directly to staff some of the unintended consequences the Safe Cosmetics Act would have on the handcrafted soapmaking industry. Furthermore, we learned that Congresswoman Schakowsky intends to introduce a revised version of the Safe Cosmetics Act in the 112th Congress sometime in the late Spring.  The timing of our visit enabled us to offer input and guidance as to how the bill can be improved upon to ensure the vitality of our industry.  Equally important, we were told that we can expect an ongoing dialogue as the bill is drafted.

President Leigh O'Donnell with Rep. Chris Gibson (NY-20)

Another key meeting was with the legislative assistant for FDA and health issues to Congressman John Dingell, the former Chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Congressman Dingell has a keen interest in advancing safe cosmetics legislation, but is also committed to provisions to adequately accommodate small manufacturers, their businesses and the workers they employ.  We and our Washington advocates were very pleased by Congressman Dingell’s position and will continue to work with his office to promote the interests of HSMG members and the necessary protections for their businesses.

I left D.C. encouraged that our meetings on Capitol Hill were effective and that we communicated a clear message on how harmful previously introduced Safe Cosmetics Act would be to the handcrafted soapmaking industry. Although our message was well received, we will and must continue to remain focused on educating Members of Congress and their staff on our industry and how additional regulation would be burdensome to thousands of small businesses across the country.  Furthermore, the meetings were enormously valuable in making Members of Congress aware of the handcrafted soapmaking industry, the professional and safe standards that the HSMG actively promotes within the industry and the economic contributions each and every HSMG member makes in their local community.
President Leigh O'Donnell and Donna Maria Coles Johnson of The Indie Beauty Network
Rest assured that while I am not in Washington, D.C., our government relations team of Mary Anne Walsh and Rick Limardo will continue to advocate on our behalf by meeting with Members and staff on this important issue and monitoring the latest developments on the Safe Cosmetics Act as well as other issues affecting the industry.  Along with our team in D.C., I am committed to making sure the U.S. Congress knows and understands our industry and that we want and deserve a seat at the table should any legislation move forward.
For more information on our legislative advocacy position and efforts, please visit our Legislative Advocacy web pages here. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
Leigh O’Donnell
HSMG President