California Moves to Ban 20 Controversial Chemicals From Cosmetics

It's a game-changer.

California Moves to Ban 20 Controversial Chemicals from Cosmetics
Credit: Image via iStock/JackF

A new piece of legislation could end the use of 20 controversial chemicals in cosmetics sold in California.

The Assembly Bill 495, authored by Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), is urging California legislators to ban cosmetics containing ingredients including mercury, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, triclosan, and the fluorinated compounds known as PFAS.

Many of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, metabolic disorders, and reproductive harm.

Sponsored by Environmental Working Group and CALPIRG, the legislation’s magnitude in a state as large as California could lead the way for stricter policies across the nation.

More than 40 other nations have prohibited or strongly restricted the use of thousands of chemicals in cosmetics. According to EWG, many major retailers have lists of chemicals that may not be used in house cosmetics brands. 

“Californians deserve to know whether the cosmetic products they purchase in the state are not harmful to their health,” said Assemblymember Muratsuchi. “While cosmetic products sold in the U.S. are largely unregulated, other nations — and even retailers — have proactively banned or restricted the use of hundreds or thousands of cosmetic ingredients. AB 495 will protect consumers by banning the sale in California of cosmetics containing known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and endocrine disruptors that are harmful to human health.”

“Most of us, including me, use cosmetics on a daily basis,” said Assemblymember Wicks. “Some still contain chemicals that are harmful to our bodies. AB 495 will protect consumers so that we can continue to use our favorite products without worrying about what’s in our mascara.”

EWG, which runs the Skin Deep database outlining chemical ingredients and their health risks, says these ingredients have “no place” in daily use products. 

“This common-sense proposal is exactly what is needed to clean up the cosmetics aisle so that Californians can be assured their makeup, soap and shampoos don’t include harmful chemicals,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior California advocate for government affairs. 

“Many cosmetics companies are already reformulating their products to exclude these dangerous chemicals, but it’s important to establish a floor other companies can’t drop below,” said EWG President Ken Cook.

“No cosmetics CEO would make a product with a cancer-causing chemical ingredient that could not be sold in California, the fifth-largest economy in the world.” 

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