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Wrinkles fixed in an hour? US mulls cosmetic inspectors but one idea is : Leave it to social media!


By Noel Young | Correspondent

April 23, 2012 | 4 min read

Cosmetics and the claims made for them are becoming a new focus of attention for American watchdogs with the suggestion that tougher supervision could be on the way. But one congressman has suggested that social media would do a better job than Government inspectors.

Lancome: Claims challenged

For years the sector - worth $60 billion a year in the US - has taken a back seat to drugs, and food supplements when it comes to scrutiny but, says AdAge magazine, that is changing.

L'Oréal was recently quizzed by a US watchdog group over claims that their Lancome creams could refill wrinkles in an hour.

Both Lancome and J&J's Neutrogena "lacked substantiation" for claims that their creams could, respectively, refill the wrinkles in about an hour or eliminate them in a week, said the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Both companies disagreed with the decisions, but said they'd take them into account in future ads.

Cosmetic ingredients and the claims made for them , said AdAge, are the fastest-growing regulatory frontier in marketing.

The Obama administration plans to allocate nearly $19 million for enhanced monitoring - which would include a switch to mandatory from voluntary registration of ingredients.

Director Michael Landa of the Food and Drug Administration says tougher standards are needed because of rapidly changing tech and more aggressive marketing claims for skin-care products.

He told a Congressional committee Increased use of extremely small particles (often wrongly called "nanotechnology") may result in products or ingredients that work far differently than their conventional forebears.

One issue: Do metal oxides used in topical cosmetics penetrate the skin and become toxic when users are exposed to sunlight?

"The industry often refers to these products as "cosmeceuticals," Landa said.

That term "has no legal or regulatory definition in the U.S.," he said - but it could lead to some anti-ageing creams "crossing the line to be classified and regulated like drugs."

The anti-wrinkle component retinol wasn't even registered with the FDA before 2005 - but is now listed in 200 products, he said.

The skin-care industry has also listed more than 95 new anti-ageing peptide formulations in more than 1,200 product-ingredients statements in recent years.

Congressman Jan Schakowsky said only 10 cosmetic ingredients were banned in the U.S., compared with 1,200 in the European Union.

But Congressman Joe Barton said social media could do a better job as watchdog than a bunch of new FDA inspectors.

"Where's the fire that we have to have these new authorities,"he asked. "All it takes is one Facebook or one Twitter message and that product is deader than a doornail."

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