Statement by Farah K. Ahmed, Chair, Sunscreen Task Force, Personal Care Products Council in Response to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) 2015 Sunscreen Shopping Guide

“While the Environmental Working Group (EWG) 2015 Sunscreen Shopping Guide helps raise awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and the importance of using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, it also contains false information, inaccuracies, and methodology flaws that ultimately render it misleading and potentially harmful to public health.  

“This year’s shopping guide contains little new information and is virtually identical to its 2014 and 2013 predecessors.  As in previous years, this year’s guide is not a scientific document, nor has it been peer reviewed or reviewed for accuracy by recognized sunscreen experts.  At best, it is an inaccurate document that should not be used to assess sunscreens or make shopping decisions.

“Our greatest concern is that the report is falsely alarming and may result in even more people avoiding the use of sunscreen on themselves or their children.  People are already not adequately protecting themselves from the sun. In fact, a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that approximately 43% of men and 27% of women never use sunscreen on their faces or other exposed skin.  This is particularly concerning when we consider:

  • Every year, there are more than 63,000 new cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, resulting in nearly 9,000 deaths;
  • Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with 5 MILLION PEOPLE treated each year;
  • More than 1 out of every 3 Americans reports getting sunburned each year. Sunburn is a clear sign of overexposure to the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays, a major cause of skin cancer – a single bad burn in childhood doubles the risk of developing melanoma later in life.

“In addition to FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Skin Cancer Foundation and health care professionals worldwide all emphasize that using sunscreens is a critical part of a safe sun regimen.  The dangers of sun exposure are clear and universally recognized by public health professionals and dermatologists.

“As sunscreen manufactures, our goal is to provide Americans with access to a wide variety of safe, effective and innovative sunscreens to use as an important part of an overall sun safe regimen.”

Statement by Farah K. Ahmed, Chair Sunscreen Task Force, Personal Care Products Council On Consumer Reports’ “5 Things You Must Know About Sunscreen”

“It is important to note that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates sunscreens as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and requires rigorous testing for sunscreen effectiveness (both SPF and “Broad Spectrum”). Consumers can rest assured that this reliable and credible testing method results in sunscreens that are safe and effective in protecting them from harmful UV rays.  FDA’s sunscreen testing requirements are well recognized by experts and regulatory authorities in the U.S. as well as globally. It appears that Consumer Reports did not use FDA’s official sunscreen test method but rather used a different test not recognized by scientific experts.

“FDA requires a specific test for ‘Broad Spectrum’ that is very similar to the European standard.  However, the vast majority of sunscreens on the U.S. market that meet FDA’s “Broad Spectrum” test also meet Europe’s UVA test.

“It is inaccurate to suggest that natural sunscreens do not work as effectively as others.  The SPF and Broad Spectrum tests measure the level of sunscreen protection provided to consumers, regardless of whether that sunscreen is “natural,” “organic,” “green,” etc.  

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Skin Cancer Foundation and health care professionals around the world all emphasize the safety of sunscreens and the importance of their use as part of a safe sun regimen.  The dangers of sun exposure are clear and universally recognized by public health professionals and dermatologists. The National Institutes of Health Report on Carcinogens identifies solar UV radiation as a ‘known human carcinogen.’ A single bad burn as a child is known to increase the skin’s susceptibility to damage and skin cancer throughout life.

“Our goal is to help consumers make informed decisions and use sunscreen as an important part of an overall safe sun program.  Sunscreen is a crucial step in the fight against skin cancer and premature skin aging. It is our hope that using sunscreen becomes as much of a habit as putting on your seatbelt.  

“For more information on the importance of safe sun practices, please watch our Skin Smart educational video series.”

Industry Veteran Elizabeth Anderson to Leave Position as General Counsel; Trade Association Promotes Thomas Myers to Top Legal Position

Elizabeth (Betsy) Anderson will be leaving her position as general counsel from the Personal Care Products Council, effective May 29. Anderson joined the association’s legal team in 1996, holding both assistant and associate general counsel positions before being promoted to general counsel in 2006.  

Throughout her tenure, Anderson has served as a trusted advisor to several CEOs and served as an important member of the executive leadership team, advocating on behalf of the cosmetics and personal care industry before federal and state regulators in the areas of OTC labeling, combination colors, sunscreens and antimicrobials. Her accomplishments include receiving the 2014 Distinguished Service & Leadership Award from the Food & Drug Law Institute (FDLI) as well as serving as Chair of FDLI’s Board of Directors.

“We very much appreciate Betsy’s leadership and commitment to the Council over the last 19 years,” said Lezlee Westine, President and CEO. “She has been an invaluable member of our executive leadership team and has helped the Council become one of the most effective trade associations in Washington. We will miss her greatly,” said Westine.

Succeeding Anderson as general counsel will be Thomas Myers, currently the organization’s associate general counsel.

Myers is currently responsible for handling legal and regulatory issues facing the cosmetics industry, particularly in the area of environmental law. Before joining the Council, Myers was Counsel at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and he has more than a decade of experience in private law practice, where he worked for the international law firms Jones Day and Greenberg Traurig.   

“I am confident that Tom will be an excellent addition to our executive leadership team,” said Westine. “He is a strong and experienced professional with sound judgement and an unwavering commitment to our industry.”

Testimony of John Hurson, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, Personal Care Products Council Before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Chairman Pitts, Ranking Member Green, Chairman Upton, Ranking Member Pallone, and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of discontinuing the use of plastic microbeads in personal care cleansing products and specifically to address H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act.

The Personal Care Products Council is the leading trade association representing approximately 600 large, medium and small sized companies that manufacture and distribute the vast majority of cosmetic and personal care products marketed in the U.S.  As makers of a diverse range of products that consumers trust and rely on every day, from sunscreen, shampoo and toothpaste to moisturizer, lipstick and fragrance, personal care products companies are global leaders committed to safety, quality and innovation.

The American cosmetics industry employs more than 2.8 million people nationwide with more than $260 billion in global annual sales.  Our industry is dynamic, and continuously develops innovative products to meet consumer demands and expectations. Our member companies invest more than $3.6 billion each year on scientific research and development.  As a result of this research, 2,000 new products are launched each year, and numerous scientific studies are published on enhancing or developing new safety methods.

Equally important, is that our industry shares a common interest with other stakeholders in protecting the environment, and our members take questions regarding the presence of microbeads in our waterways very seriously.  Our industry has a long standing commitment to the global environmental stewardship of its products.

Historically, plastic microbeads have been used in some personal care cleansing products because of their safe and effective exfoliating properties. These plastic beads have an excellent health and safety profile, do not present adverse effects such as allergic reactions, are gentle on the skin, especially for consumers with sensitive skin conditions.

Over the last five years, numerous reports in the press and some scientific literature have indicated the occurrence of plastic microbeads in our oceans and lakes.  It should be noted that the sources of these plastic microbeads are varied and difficult to ascertain. These may include clothing fibers, boat paint particles, degrading plastic bags, plastic bottles, and personal care products.  However, out of an abundance of caution and despite the absence of any peer-reviewed science on the contribution from personal care products to plastic microbeads in the aquatic environment, our member companies have committed to discontinue formulating products with plastic microbeads in favor of other viable alternatives.

While we do support the discontinued use of plastic microbeads, it is important to recognize that product reformulation is an extremely complex process.  Various and necessary steps include raw materials research and development, product testing and qualification to meet safety and regulatory requirements, manufacturing, and post market surveillance for continual evaluation – this process takes many years.  Furthermore, because of our commitment to the safety of our products, we must affirm that the alternative ingredient will not cause unintended consequences and will meet our consumers’ safety and product needs.

In 2014, a wide range of environmental, government and business stakeholders came together in the state of Illinois to negotiate legislation to phase out plastic microbeads.  All stakeholders supported the bill, which passed both houses unanimously and was signed into law in June of last year. New Jersey, Maine, Indiana and Colorado have enacted similar legislation, and the Council of State Governments, a bi-partisan government organization of state government officials, has adopted the Illinois law as suggested model legislation.

Our industry supports federal plastic microbeads legislation establishing a national uniform standard that provides certainty for both consumers and businesses, by setting appropriate and pragmatic phase out dates, appropriate definitions of synthetic plastic microbeads, and inclusion of over the counter drugs containing plastic microbeads.

It is especially important to carefully define synthetic plastic microbeads in the statute to avoid inadvertently prohibiting the use of natural alternatives and to make sure the prohibition provides clear direction to companies regarding reformulation.  The dates for prohibition of manufacture and sell through of both personal care products and OTC products are also critical to assure a level playing field for both large and small companies as they reformulate.

With the right policy framework, we can remain an innovative industry providing our consumers with the safest, high quality products they expect and deserve while also doing our role to continue to protect the environment.  

Thank you again for the opportunity to be here today.  On behalf of the members of the Personal Care Products Council, we look forward to working with the Committee on this legislation.