• June 10, 2020
  • EWG

Everything You Need to Know About California’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act

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A piece of legislation winding its way through the California legislature could be the biggest influence on U.S. cosmetics safety for close to a century. The bill would ban a dozen of the most concerning ingredients commonly found in cosmetics sold in California.

EWG breaks down why this new legislation is great news, whether you live in California or elsewhere in the U.S.

What is California’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act?

The U.S. cosmetics industry is notoriously underregulated. Ingredients that research has shown to be unsafe are legally permitted in the cosmetics sold online, at your local drugstore or department store – or anywhere else in the U.S. Legislation pending in California could change that – not just in the Golden State but in the rest of the U.S., too.


The 12 chemicals banned by AB 2762 are:

(*) Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. It harms the skin, lungs and respiratory system as well as the immune system.

(*) Paraformaldehyde, a type of formaldehyde.

(*) Methylene glycol, a type of formaldehyde.

(*) Quaternium-15, which releases formaldehyde, and can cause allergic contact dermatitis.

(*) Mercury, a potent neurotoxicant especially harmful to children.

(*) DBP and  DEHP, which disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system.

(*) Isobutyl and isopropyl parabens, which disrupt hormones and harm the reproductive system.

(*) The family of toxic chemicals known as PFAS, which have been linked to cancer, hormonal disruption, harm to the reproductive system and suppressed immune activity.

(*) M- and o-phenylenediamine, used in hair dyes, which irritate and sensitize the skin, damage DNA and can cause cancer.


By contrast, the EU prohibits or restricts the use of more than 1,400 chemicals in cosmetics, and many other countries closely regulate cosmetics. More than 40 nations have stricter cosmetic safety regulations than the U.S.




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