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California’s Biggest Clean Beauty Move Yet

By Robin Tolkan-Doyle, Beauty Editor

On September 30th, California Governor Gavin Newsom passed a momentous law involving the beauty industry banning 24 toxic ingredients from cosmetic products sold in the state known as The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, Assembly Bill 2762. According to this signed legislation, the sunshine state is the first state in the nation to prevent the inclusion of these hazardous and harmful chemicals, including mercury and formaldehyde, in beauty and personal care products.

Newsom also signed Senate Bill 312, which requires the disclosure of fragrance ingredients, which have always been known as mysterious and misleading. When you see “fragrance” on a label, that usually indicates a combination of ingredients, many of which are potentially toxic. No government has ever mandated fragrance formulations before, so this is truly a big deal. All of this is set to go into effect in January 2025.

In the official statement from the Governor’s office, Newsom says:

“Every day, Californians are exposed to hazardous chemicals hiding in their cosmetics and personal care products. Children, communities of color and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to these ingredients, which are not actively regulated by the federal government. California is leading the nation by banning toxic ingredients from our cosmetics. This legislation will save lives and keep Californians and our environment safe.”

As an advocate for clean, toxic-free and transparent ingredient formulations who has worked in the beauty industry for more than half of my life, I’m proud to call myself a native Californian. It’s about time one of our elected officials took this life and death matter seriously. The last time that any government restrictions were placed on the cosmetic industry was 82 years ago when congress passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of 1938.

At this moment in time, only 11 chemicals are outlawed from being used in beauty formulations while there are more than 1,300 currently restricted in the European Union. Hard to believe, but it’s true.

Last year, I had the good fortune to work on the public relations campaign for the award winning documentary Toxic Beauty made by Canadian director Phyllis Ellis. Toxic Beauty dives deep into the ingredient dangers lurking in personal care and cosmetics' products, specifically talc, as it follows the class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and the plaintiffs; women fighting for justice and literally, their lives.

“[This is] fantastic news at an important time in history,” says Ellis about the recent legislation. “The experts in our film expressed the urgency and the women who shared their stories make the issue of harmful toxicants, chemicals and carcinogens in cosmetics a major women's health issue. I hope all of North America takes Governor Newsom's lead, assuring our health and the health of our children is a priority.”

Being part of this movement and creating a push for change in this industry often referred to as the Wild West has been incredibly rewarding. Soon after the release of Toxic Beauty, Johnson & Johnson stopped the sale of talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada. Chanel, Revlon and L’oreal – three of the biggest brands in cosmetics - quietly moved away from including talc in their products as well.

While some may turn up their noses to the lack of ingredients these bills are actually banning (the E.U. is still waaay ahead of us with their whopping 1300), this is a huge step toward more transparency in the very murky world of cosmetics.


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