Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


The regulation of fragranced personal care products is increasingly scrutinized in the United States. As the FDA's cosmetic product requirements are minimal, particularly when compared to those followed by food producers and drug manufacturers, consumer groups emphasize the negative health implications. Industry, on the other hand, maintains that fragrances are safe for use and are effectively monitored by international trade associations. Because the government plays a modest role in cosmetic regulation, an arbiter is needed.

This Note examines the above concerns in a comparative light. The European Union's Cosmetic Directive imposes more requirements on cosmetic manufacturers and maintains a lengthier list of banned ingredients, which suggests enhanced consumer safety. In Canada, however, the Cosmetic Regulations provides a balance between public safety and industry competitiveness. Because manufacturers must submit a complete list of all product ingredients to Health Canada for review, including ingredients covered by trade secret law, a moderate level of government oversight is provided. This Note considers the implementation of an identical regulation in the U.S.

The disparate treatment of cosmetics not only affects consumer safety but is also a growing challenge to U.S. business interests. The E.U. and other international organizations are taking active leadership roles in global regulatory initiatives. While the emulation of Canadian law may provide temporary relief for domestic concerns, the author also contemplates the role played by U.S. sovereignty - both as a cause of and possible solution to the gaps in U.S. fragranced-cosmetic regulation.