What's angel dusting?

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The name angel dusting might bring to mind a couple of things -- images of fairies sprinkling their magic pixie dust and a certain illicit and illegal drug. While it's plausible that Ponch and John may have busted some street punks angel dusting in the back alleys of Los Angeles on "CHiPs," the real practice has to do with cosmetics manufacturing.

When cosmetics companies formulate their products, they include all kinds of ingredients, and each has its own specific purpose. Some active ingredients may provide the cosmetic benefit, while the others are there to keep the product at the proper consistency, smelling good, or merely filler to make it more substantial. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require that over-the-counter cosmetics makers register their products or file data on their ingredients with the regulatory body. These companies are encouraged to file a Cosmetic Product Ingredient Statement through the FDA's Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program [source: FDA].

While the FDA does oversee certain aspects of cosmetics, it mainly sticks to assuring that the product isn't poisonous, filled with "putrid or decomposed substances" and that it's manufactured under sanitary conditions. It also oversees the "misbranding" of cosmetics to assure that they don't make any false claims with their labeling. They also make sure that the label contains all the ingredients in the product and that they're displayed in a way that's clear and readable for the consumer.

In the end, the FDA both oversees and tries to stay out of the way of cosmetics manufacturers. Unless there is a hazardous ingredient or an outrageous and false health benefit is printed on the label, cosmetics manufacturers can fly under the radar. This is one reason why the process of angel dusting remains unchecked and completely legal.

Read on to find out what angel dusting is on the following page.