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Five Ways the FDA Is Failing to Protect You

Time for a little policy talk, and a quick clarification: The Food and Drug Administration is as powerful as Congress makes it. So the headline is a little misleading (as most headlines are). It's not the FDA's fault, per se, that it can't protect you from your personal care products—the agency is as powerful as the laws it enforces. The bad news is, those laws don't make them very powerful at all, leaving lots of room for enterprising businesses to use any and every ingredient under the sun in their products. And do they ever!

At the same time, as consumers, there's an implicit trust that when you buy a personal care product—be it shampoo, mascara, baby wash, or shaving cream—that it has been vetted for safety by some publicly accountable health agency. And we're here to tell you that's not the case.

Last month, three Congresspeople introduced a landmark billthe Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010—which, if it were passed into law, would change all this. You can show your support for the bill by writing to your members of Congress. (How to do that, here.) In the meantime, there are some things you should know...

This is a series inspired by No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, a book by GOOD's features editor Siobhan O'Connor and her co-author Alexandra Spunt.

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Illustrations by Brianna Harden

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