On September 30th, 2020, California became the first state in the country to enact the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (AB 2762). Gavin Newsom signed the bill, which enforces a strict ban on 24 common, toxic ingredients in personal care and beauty products. The primary chemicals in this ban include mercury and formaldehyde, which are in beauty products that people use every day.
Statistically, the average American woman uses 12 beauty products every day. From lipsticks and foundations to hair care products and lotions, those 12 products amount to over 200 chemicals. Personal care products and cosmetics in the United States are mostly self-regulated. The industry went under FDA purview in the 1930s and only nine chemicals have been banned since. To this day, 12,000 chemicals are in circulation, and many of them increase the risk of birth defects, certain cancers, and damage to reproductive health. The most problematic chemicals that you should always avoid include:
- Some parabens and phytates
The California Ban:
As of January 2025, a person or manufacturer cannot offer, deliver, or sell any cosmetic products that contains the ingredients banned by the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act. This is a progressive move for California, making it the first state in the country to follow in the footsteps of over 40 other nations. Those 40 nations have stricter cosmetic safety laws than the United States does, and they’ve banned an estimated 1,400 chemicals that are commonly in beauty products in the United States.
The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, which was largely supported by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), has banned the following chemicals:
- Dibutyl phthalate
- Diethylhexyl phthalate
- Methylene glycol
- m-Phenylenediamine and its salts
- o-Phenylenediamine and its salts
- Several Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their salts
There Is One Exception To The Bill:
There is one thing to clarify in regards to the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act. According to the bill, “If a cosmetic product made through manufacturing processes intended to comply with this chapter contains a technically unavoidable trace quantity of an ingredient listed in the subdivision and that trace quantity stems from impurities of natural or synthetic ingredients, the manufacturing process, storage, or migration from packaging, that trace quantity shall not cause the cosmetic product to be in violation of this section.”
The Point Of This Bill:
The reason that people lobbied to pass this bill is to inform California consumers of the ingredients that are in beauty and personal care products. To often do manufacturers exclude ingredients, and the reason they can get away with this is due to loose FDA requirements. Most commercial beauty products contain fragrances, artificial colors, stabilizers, and preservatives, all of which can penetrate the skin. These chemicals can disrupt thyroid function, menstruation, and lead to diabetes, antibacterial resistance, infertility, and certain types of cancer. The FDA doesn’t require cosmetics or the ingredients in them to gain approval before they are available for purchase. This increases the risk of health problems for anyone who uses lotions, makeup, hair care products, and other beauty products.