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ColorProof Founder Jim Markham on FDA Cosmetic Regulations and Small Businesses

Anne Moratto | August 24, 2016 | 9:10 AM

*Originally published on TheHill.com, this opinion piece by ColorProof CEO and Founder Jim Markham has been reprinted below. Markham comments on increased FDA regulations as it relates to the cosmetic industry.

Increased Food and Drug Administration regulations could have a negative effect on the entrepreneur or smaller businesses, especially within the beauty industry. 

Small companies thrive on the importance of new product innovation and carve out new categories because of new technologies and ingredients as a point of differentiation. Many large companies are restricted by price and will repurpose formulas and fragrances continuously to save costs.

Given their budgets and current price points to consumers, they are limited in their development process and they're also limited from using the best new ingredients.

If by chance, they are able to use them, it is most likely not at therapeutic levels. Often the newest and most innovative ingredients come at a premium, which larger companies will forgo to save money, and instead substitute with stock ingredients — a decision that sacrifices performance in the end. Small companies need innovation in order to compete and give consumers the choice to not settle for mediocrity.

An increase in FDA regulations could prevent small, niche companies from discovering innovative ways to formulate and deliver new products that are not only safe for customers but also deliver better performance with incredible results never before possible. We don’t want an increase in regulations to force smaller companies out, which are the same companies that are driving the innovation. Ultimately an increase in FDA regulations would cause increased costs to consumers and force less-than-par product performance upon them.

I founded PureOlogy Serious Colour Care, the first luxury color care company that pioneered the use of sulfate-free, salt-free formulas. PureOlogy quickly became the market leader in professional color care and was marked by numerous awards, and eventually led to the sale to L’Oreal.

PureOlogy’s remarkable success was a direct result of ingredient discovery and incredible advances in product innovation that have since become the industry standard. Had product development been more deeply regulated at that time, we may not have the many advantages of sulfate-free hair care today that has taken the industry by storm.

Many manufacturers conceive a product first in terms of its price point, which limits the quality of ingredients that can be used. With ColorProof we start with the determining the performance we want to achieve using innovative ingredients with superior quality, and we work backward from there, determining the price point last. Formulating in this nature is the only way to ensure true innovation and spectacular results. 

While we don’t need any additional FDA regulation, we are extremely cautious to ensure all our formulations do not use ingredients from their “do not use” list, which includes sulfates, gluten, salts, parabens, PABA and phthalates. Even if the FDA doesn’t have a potentially “harmful” ingredient on their list, we still go above and beyond to avoid that risky ingredient which may, or may not be safe. If the FDA discovers an ingredient we are using is, in fact, harmful, we will remove it from our formulas immediately.

One must keep in mind that regulations too heavy, or too strict, can stifle creativity and innovation, particularly in the beauty industry. We feel that the current regulations are more than adequate and are doing their job to keep consumers safe.

If the FDA adds more regulations, I fear it will remove the whole creative part of the formulation process. Product development will become about cost of goods, instead of superior performance and innovation. 

--Jim Markham

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