April 2, 2019


Several legislators are considering several bills to ban the worst chemicals from cosmetics and improve right-to-know for workers in the salon industry and consumers. In 2017, the value of the U.S. market for the beauty and personal care product industry reached around $86 billion.

Ingredients in cosmetic products are linked to an array of acute and chronic harm such as cancer, reproductive/developmental harm, and asthma. This is of great concern to all consumers and to the mostly women workforce in hair and nail salons who are exposed to these products most days of the week over a long workday.

Cosmetic products are largely un-regulated in the United States. Of the 10,000 chemicals used in personal care products, only 10% have been assessed for safety. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FDCA) prohibits the marketing of adulterated and misbranded cosmetics in interstate commerce, which generally has not been applied to prohibit products due to ingredients linked to serious negative health impacts like cancer and reproductive harm.  There is no requirement that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assess the safety of cosmetic products before they go on the market. Moreover, the FDA has no mandatory recall authority if a product is unsafe. Fragrance components do not have to be disclosed. The California Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Law largely tracks federal law and also prohibits mislabeling and adulteration.

Due to a loophole in the federal labeling laws, manufacturers of professional use cosmetics –in contrast to retail cosmetics–do not have to list ingredients on the labels. Last year that changed in California with the passage of AB 2775 (Kalra) which requires the ingredients of professional cosmetics be listed on the labels. California is poised again this year to continue the trend of making the ingredients of cosmetics more transparent and safer. We strongly support the following policy efforts aimed at doing just that.

AB 647 (Kalra) Makes occupational safety and health information in Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for cosmetics and disinfectants easier to access for salon professionals, particularly Vietnamese nail salon community members, by requiring that SDSs be posted on a website and be translated into Vietnamese, Spanish, Chinese, and Korean. The money spent in U.S. nail salons increased from $7.47 billion in 2012 to $8.53 billion in 2017.

SB 574 (Leyva) Requires manufacturers of cosmetics and personal care products sold in California to disclose fragrance and flavor ingredients in their products. Currently, manufacturers are able to hide those ingredients behind “trade secret” principles. According to the bill’s findings: “There are almost 4,000 fragrance ingredients declared by the International Fragrance Association to be currently in use in fragrance and over 3,000 flavor ingredients designated by the International Organization of the Flavor Industry. These lists include carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, asthmagens, neurotoxicants, allergens, and other chemicals of concern.” The American Academy of Dermatology issued a statement supporting identifying allergens of fragrances in cosmetics.

AB 495 (Muratsuchi, Wicks) Would define an adulterated cosmetic in California as one that contains one of 20 specified chemicals or contaminants including dibutyl phthalate and toluene (can cause reproductive and developmental harm), formaldehyde (can cause cancer and respiratory harm), and lead (a contaminant that can affect the brain development of children and cause permanent nervous system damage. Found in lipstick, lotion, and others.) “Adulterated” cosmetics may not be sold in California and across the U.S.

Beauty and personal care should not make us sick. Workers and consumers should be given all the information they need to make informed decisions about the cosmetic and personal care products they use—decisions that can impact their health. AB 647, SB 547, and AB 495 will help Californians reach that goal.