California Issues New Bans, Regulations On Certain Chemicals In Cosmetics

On September 30, the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act and the Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right To Know Act were signed into law in California. The legislation makes California the first state to ban toxic chemicals in cosmetics in the U.S., and requires businesses to disclose harmful ingredients in cosmetics.

The Toxic Free Cosmetics Act amends California’s health and safety code to prohibit the sale or manufacturer of cosmetics that contain dibutyl phthalate; diethylhexyl phthalate; formaldehyde; paraformaldehyde; methylene glycol; quaternium-15; mercury; isobutylparaben; isopropylparaben; o-phenylenediamine and its salts; m-phenylenediamine and its salts; and 13 different kinds of pfas and their salts. Exceptions are provided for “unavoidable trace amounts” of these chemicals that may have inadvertently contaminated a product after the manufacturing process.

The ingredients banned by the legislation are already prohibited by the European Union and other countries. The ban goes into effect on January 1, 2025.

The Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right To Know Act requires businesses selling cosmetics in California to disclose hazardous fragrance or flavor ingredients to the California Department of Health. The chemicals affected by the new regulations include ingredients that may be classified as carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, asthmagens, neurotoxicants, allergens and other chemicals of concern currently prohibited by various groups, including state and federal regulators, the EU and Canada.

Along with the presence of the chemicals, manufacturers must disclose whether the product is intended for professional or retail use, the Chemical Abstracts Service number for each ingredient and allergen; and the corresponding Universal Product Code for the product. The disclosure of the percentage by weight of any applicable chemical is not required. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2022, and the information will be made public by the California Department of Health in its Safe Cosmetics Database.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines a cosmetic as a product—excluding pure soap—intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance. In the promotional products industry, moisturizing soaps and lip balm without sunscreen or moisturizers are among the products considered "cosmetics" by the FDA.

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