Cosmetic Safeguards

June 17, 1964

Report Outline
Anti-Wrinkle Lotion: Cosmetic or Drug?
Protection Against Hazardous Cosmetics
Controversy Over Tightening of Controls

Anti-Wrinkle Lotion: Cosmetic or Drug?

Ecent seizure by U.S. marshals of shipments of new wrinkle-eradicator lotions has raised the question of how far the government should go in attempting to protect women against their own folly in the search for eternal youth. The complaint in the present cases is largely technical: the main charge is that the manufacturers neglected to submit the preparations for approval by the Food and Drug Administration in accordance with procedures established by law for certification of new drugs. The manufacturers contend that they were not required to follow those procedures because the preparations are not drugs but cosmetics. If any of several bills now pending in Congress should become law, there would be no difference of opinion on this point; the measures would make cosmetics subject to the same requirements for approval prior to marketing as now apply to drugs.

The government's action on the anti-wrinkle products raises another question, this one in the area of truth in advertising and in labeling. The cosmetic producers think they have been sufficiently frank in presenting the skin-smoothing products as no more than temporarily effective beautifiers. The Food and Drug Administration contends, however, that this limitation has not been made sufficiently clear to avoid deceiving gullible buyers.

What is involved here is the old and difficult problem of where to draw the line between fact and fancy in making claims for products of this kind. Such products are of value to buyers not only for the tangible results which their use may bring but also for the psychological satisfaction that may be derived from the suggestions of glamour and romance carried in the sales pitch. “What we are really selling,” a cosmetic industry leader has said, “is hope.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Cosmetics and Fashion
Apr. 15, 2005  Cosmetic Surgery
Mar. 22, 1985  The World of Fashion
Apr. 14, 1971  Fashion World
Jun. 17, 1964  Cosmetic Safeguards
Jul. 13, 1960  Beauty Business
Aug. 06, 1958  Business of Fashion
Consumer Protection and Product Liability
Regulation and Deregulation
Women's Health Issues