COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the Coronavirus?
A: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which already circulate among humans. These viruses can cause mild to severe illness, like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the common cold. The new strain of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes COVID-19, was first reported in Wuhan, China and has spread across the globe. The virus has symptoms associated with respiratory illnesses, including fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Q: How does it spread?
A: Like other respiratory illnesses, the virus seems to spread primarily through person-to-person contact in one of two ways:
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet)
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes
It may also be possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
Q: How can I help prevent the spread of the virus?
A: The CDC recommends the following actions:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and dispose of it immediately. If a tissue is unavailable, use the crease of your elbow, never your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, handrails, countertops, phones, remotes, etc.). A list of household disinfectants that are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19 can be found here.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. It is particularly important to wash hands:
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After using the restroom
- Before eating or preparing food
- After contact with animals or pets
- Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g., a child or elderly person)
- If you must go out occasionally (e.g., to the grocery store or gas station):
- Use a disinfecting wipe on the handle of the shopping cart or use a paper towel to hold the gas station nozzle, handrails, etc.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol after you leave the establishment and/or when you arrive home.
- If you receive packages:
- Try to open them outside or in your garage.
- Leave the packaging outside if possible so you don’t carry potential contamination into your home.
- Once inside, wipe down the parcel with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands with soap and water or a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
Q: What else can I do to help protect myself and others?
A: Here are a few additional suggestions:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people (i.e., “social distancing) if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick (e.g., older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or compromised immune systems).
- Refrain from shaking hands and touching dirty surfaces. Nod, wave or bump elbows instead, and use your knuckle to touch light switches or press elevator buttons, etc.
- Clean visibly dirty surfaces with a disinfectant as a preventative measure in households and community settings.
Q: With hand sanitizers such short supply, is it okay for me to make my own at home?
A: While you might find suggestions online for making your own hand sanitizer, we do not recommend doing so. FDA’s recent COVID-19 guidance to industry on the production of hand sanitizers, states the following:
“Because of an increased demand for alcohol-based hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been reports of some consumers attempting to make hand sanitizers for personal use. The agency lacks information on the methods being used to prepare such products and whether they are safe for use on human skin.”
Q: What is PCPC doing during these uncertain times?
A: The Personal Care Products Council’s commitment and service to its employees, member companies and the families that trust and use their products every day remains steadfast.
In an effort to help during this pandemic; comply with national, state and local health authorities’ recommendations for social distancing; and out of an abundance of caution, PCPC closed our offices, and staff is working remotely to maintain business continuity and operational functions. We also postponed all in-person meetings and events until the current situation changes.
PCPC is working on the industry’s behalf with U.S. and foreign governments to ensure supply chains remain safe and active, and manufacturing operations are not negatively impacted by COVID-19 mitigation requirements and restrictions.
Q: What is the industry doing to help prevent the spread of the virus?
A: Top priorities for each of our member companies include the safety of their employees and their ability to provide safe and essential products that help fight the spread of the coronavirus.
PCPC members are responding to the health crisis in a number of ways. Some companies are switching production in their factories to increase the production of hand sanitizer and other essential cleaning and hygiene products. Some companies who supply to beauty industry businesses, like nail and hair salons, are relaxing or freezing payments so those businesses can maintain operations. Many companies continue their commitment to their communities, making generous donations and investments to help support recovery from the impact of the pandemic.
Q: Are beauty and personal care products safe to use during the pandemic?
A: The quality and safety of the products we provide for consumers is a top priority for our industry and a responsibility we take very seriously, especially during times such as these. Our member companies routinely adhere to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) requirements pertaining to operating procedures, manufacturing, sanitation and processing controls, as well as preventive controls to reduce or eliminate any potential contamination. As such, based on the information available, we believe consumers can continue to use products as they were before the pandemic.
The CDC’s household cleaning recommendations can also be applied to the outer packaging of your cosmetics and personal care products as well (i.e., you can wipe down a lotion bottle or lipstick tube with a disinfecting wipe).
Q: Are there other tips for using my cosmetic and personal care products safely?
A: As we face the spread of COVID-19, good safety and hygiene practices are more important than ever. Correct use of cosmetics and personal care products can help keep you and your family safe. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:
- Always wash your hands before applying products.
- Read instructions carefully and note any warnings.
- Throw away products that smell bad or have changed color, or when the label indicates.
- Don’t dilute products with water or re-use applicators without washing them.
- Don’t share cosmetics with anyone, even family members.
- Tightly close containers and jars after each use.
- Store cosmetics in a clean, dry place and not in extreme environments.
- Don’t sample products unless you use clean applicators.
- Replace applicators frequently or use disposable applicators.
Q: Can I get COVID-19 from my pets?
A: There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, the CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.
Pets have other types of coronaviruses that can make them sick, like canine and feline coronaviruses. These other coronaviruses cannot infect people and are not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to practice healthy habits around pets and other animals, such as washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene.
Q: I read on social media that it is dangerous to let your pets lick your hands after using hand sanitizer. Is this true?
A: While rumors online suggest hand sanitizers contain a toxic ingredient also found in antifreeze that will harm pets, that ingredient (ethylene glycol) is NOT used in consumer hand sanitizer products. However, to be effective in sanitizing your hands, follow directions and allow the product to dry without wiping.
As an industry dedicated to safety, we understand the critical importance of credible, factual information, especially during these uncertain times. These additional resources can help you navigate the best way to protect the health and well-being of you and your family, as well as your community:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
- American Cleaning Institute (ACI)
- American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)
For more information about safely using cosmetics & personal care products, please visit www.CosmeticsInfo.org.
- 6 Tips to Keep Your Beauty Products Safe by Alex Kowcz, Chief Scientist, Personal Care Products Council
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- Cosmetic & Personal Care Product Safety, scientific and research processes, and regulatory authority
- The Science of Cosmetics Safety [VIDEO]