California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, Assembly Bill 2762, into law yesterday. It is the first U.S. state to ban chemicals including mercury and formaldehyde from personal care and beauty products.
Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) introduced The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act. The bill’s sponsors include Black Women for Wellness, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, and California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG). The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also sponored the legislation. It operates the Skin Deep database ranking safety of chemicals in personal care products.
“This marks a momentous milestone in the history of cosmetics regulation,” EWG President Ken Cook said in a statement.
“The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act gives consumers the healthier products they are demanding and deserve,” added Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate for California government affairs.
Toxic Chemicals In Skincare
“Some of the most toxic ingredients are being aggressively marketed to Black women,” said Nourbese Flint, policy director at Black Women for Wellness. “Levels of formaldehyde that could be used to embalm a body are being used in hair straighteners, and Black women who dye their hair are 60 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. That’s why we demand safe cosmetics now. This law means we can finally protect women from the toxic exposures they currently face on every trip to the salon.”
California joins 40 countries already regulating skincare chemicals and banning controversial ingredients. The move sets a precedent in the U.S., where cosmetics ingredients are largely unregulated. The FDA oversees the cosmetics and personal care industries. But the agency has been slow to regulate or consider bans on ingredients linked to serious health issues. Some of the risks include reproductive issues, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and cancer.
“Formaldehyde in bubble bath?” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. “Mercury in skin lightening creams? Congress has been asleep at the wheel for 82 years when it comes to cosmetic safety,” she said.
The banned chemicals include toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS, mercury, formaldehyde, phthalates and long-chain parabens.