Legislative Update: The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011

The HSMG has been actively involved in advocacy for the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry for the past several years.  We have made tremendous progress during the past year in introducing and familiarizing our industry to Capital Hill with the assistance of our DC advocates Mary Anne Walsh and Rick Limardo. HSMG  leaders have met with Members of Congress to educate them on our industry’s businesses as well as the diverse products they produce.  Most encouraging is Congress listened and took our concerns to heart.

When the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 was introduced last year, the handcrafted soap and cosmetics industry was unknown in Washington, DC.  Many provisions in the 2010 bill would have negatively impacted thousands of small businesses throughout the United States.  Through our meetings with the staff of the bill sponsors, Representatives Jan Schakowsky, Edward Markey and Tammy Baldwin, we learned that the legislation was not aimed at the handcrafted soap industry.

Now, a year later, we have attended several meetings with the sponsors of the bill and many other Members of Congress.  They have listened to and heard our concerns.  There have been many positive changes, and we are very encouraged that we have such an open line of communication to see our way forward.

On June 24, 2011, a new bill, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (HR 2359), was introduced. After a detailed review of the new legislation, we  held another meeting with the bill sponsors to get clarification on some areas of concern with HR 2359 . At that meeting, held July 13th, the staff was very gracious and willing to answer our questions and, more importantly, to help us understand their intention in drafting the legislation.  We were very  encouraged to find out that many of the worries that we had were due to misinterpreting the language in the bill or not understanding the intent behind certain portions.

Based on the information provided to us and our current understanding of the bill, we support the intent of The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.

During the week of July 24th, we will be placing a detailed summary of the bill on our website which will include the clarifications on issues of concern we have received from the sponsors. Until then, should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

This is far from over; the legislative process is long and includes committee hearings, amendments, mark-ups  and hearings all before the bill moves to the House floor for any vote.  The HSMG is very confident that with the relationships we have forged and with the guidance and advice of our legislative advocates, we are well positioned to have our voice heard throughout the process.  It is very important to stay involved, stay informed and above all, stay calm.  We have a seat at the table and we will continue our dialogue with the bill sponsors, committee members and others as the legislation moves forward.

Leigh O’Donnell

HSMG President

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

From the President – DC Advocacy Trip Follow-up – Safe Cosmetics Act

Yesterday I met with legislative staffers in the offices of Reps. Jan Schakowsky, (D-Il), Ed Markey, (D-Ma) and Tammy Baldwin, (D-Wi), the original co-sponsors of H.R. 5786 The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010.  I was joined by Anne-Marie Faiola of Bramble Berry in Bellingham, Wa, Kayla Fioravanti of Essential Wholesale in Portland, Or, Lela Barker of Bella Lucce in Irmo, SC, and Donna Maria Coles Johnson of The Indie Beauty Network.

For full details on this bill please visit the SCA-2010 pages on the HSMG website.

At the last minute we were also able to add the staffer from Rep. Barney Frank’s office (D-Ma), who is a new co-sponsor of the bill.

Highlights of this meeting:

  1. The meeting was productive and informative – having the power-packed team of Donna Maria, Kayla, Anne-Marie & Lela there helped to maximize our time in front of the staffers.  Each of these team members bring their own areas of expertise to the table and we were able to make strong points and create meaningful dialogue.
  2. The Staffers were open and interested – they engaged us, asked questions and we were left with a few follow-up tasks.
  3. We were able to address specific concerns – we shared our concerns about the paperwork, registration and labeling.  To prove our point on labeling of trace elements we provided a case study of a lotion bar made with three ingredients (olive oil, cocoa butter & lavender essential oil).  Here is what the ingredient label would look like:


Olive Oil (Tri-Glycerides of Palmitic, Di-Glycerides of Palmitic, Palmitoleic, Stearic, Oleic, Linoleic, Arachidic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Squalene, Beta Carotene, Campesterol, Methylenecholesterol, Stigmasterol, Sitosterol, Fucosterol, 28-Isofucosterol, Stigmadienol, Brassicasterol, 7-Cholestenol,Ergostadienol, Avenasterol, Triterpene Alcohols, Tirucallol, Taraxerol, Dammaradienol Beta-Amyrin Germanicol, Butyrospermol, Parkeol, Cycloartenol, Tirucalladienol, 24-Methlene 24-Dihydroparkeol, 24-Methlenecycloartanol, Cyclobranol, 4-Methyl Sterols, Esters of Tyrosol, Esters of Hydroxytyrosol, Vitamin E (Tocopherols), Carotenoids, Oleuropein)

Cocoa Butter (Tri and Diglycerides of Stearic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Lead, Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, Isoleic Acid, Beta Carotene, p-Hydroxybenzoic Acid, Vanillic Acid, Ferulic Acid, Syringic Acid, Phenylehtylamine, Theophylline, Aliphatic Esters, Aromatic Carbonyls, Caffeine, Theobromine, Diketopiperazines and Alkylpryazines)

Lavender Essential Oil ( Cineole Octanol, Octanone, Alpha Bisabolol, Alpha Cadinol, Alpha Humelene, Alpha Phellandrene, Apha Pinene, Alpha Terpinene, Alpha Terpineol, Alpha Terpinyl Acetate, Alpha Thujene, Alpha Thujone, Beta Bisabolol, Beta Pinene, Beta Thujone, Borneol, Bornyl Acetate, Camphene Camphor, Cineolealpha Terpineol, Carvone, Caryophyllene, Carophyllene Oxide, CIS Alpha Terpineol, CIS Alpha Bisabolene, CIS Carveol, CIA Linalol Epoxide, CIS Ocimene, Citronellal, Citronellol, Coumarine, Cuminaldehyde, Eugenol, Furfural, Geraniol, Geranyl Acetate, Geranyl Butyrate, Hexanol, Hexyl Tiglate, Isoborneol, Lavandulol, Lavandulyl Acetate, Limonene, Linanlol, Linalyl Acetate, Methyl Heptenone, Myrcene, Nerol, Neryl Acetate, Oleanolic Acid, P Cymene, Rosemarinic Acid, Sabinen, Terpinenol, Terpinolene, Trans Carveol, Trans Epoxy Linalyl Acetate, Trans Linanol Epoxide, Trans Ocimene, Ursolic Acid)

After this meeting we were able to get a last minute meeting with a staffer from the office of Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Ca).  Sen. Feinstein will most likely be introducing a senate version of H.R. 5786. (it is not usual for there to be both a House and Senate version of the same bill).  The staffer was very open to our concerns for small business and seemed interested in keeping a line of communication open as this process continues.

What can you do?

  1. Understand the Legislative Process.
  2. Understand the Issues.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the Talking Points.
  4. Determine who you should write or contact.
  5. Make your opinion known.  (Follow us on Twitter & Facebook)
  6. Let us know what you’ve done. (email: President@soapguild.org)
  7. Donate to the Advocacy Fund.
  8. Most importantl, if you are NOT a member, JOIN!!

I would like to personally thank Donna Maria, Kayla, Anne-Marie & Lela.  If you have a chance to thank them yourselves, please do.  These women work tirelessly for you behind the scenes, taking time away from their businesses, families and lives.  They are all truly amazing and it is my good fortune to be able to work with them on this important issue.

Updates will be posted to the blog and sent to members in an eNews.

Leigh O’Donnell

HSMG President