The good news is that people are getting wiser about the products they use, and legislative change is starting to occur (although only in California and Europe thus far). The question is, will California’s new law start a domino affect that will allow others to become aware and force legislative change in other places? We certainly hope so.
There are a large number of ingredients commonly used in personal care products and cosmetics that are not safe. However, the FDA does not always have the authority, nor the will, to do anything about this problem. Now finally, a governmental body (in the US) is doing something about this.
The state government of California passed the Toxic Free Cosmetic Act. In summary, as of January 2025, the law prohibits “a person or entity from manufacturing, selling, delivering, holding, or offering for sale in commerce, any cosmetic product that contains any of several specified intentionally added ingredients.” These ingredients include: “dibutyl phthalate, diethylhexyl phthalate, formaldehyde, paraformaldehyde, methylene glycol, quaternium-15, mercury, isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, m-Phenylenediamine and its salts, o-Phenylenediamine and its salts, and several per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their salts.”
Many of the ingredients included in the bill are already banned or restricted in the European Union. Unfortunately, this law will not go into effect until 2025. But perhaps this may serve as a first domino towards more steps to address this problem. To see a complete list of the ingredients to be banned in 2025 you can click here.
While California’s measure to ban 24 known toxic chemicals is a good start, it is only a start. Remember the EU has already banned over a 1,000 of these toxic chemicals, not a mere 24.
I find it baffling that in 2021, manufacturers which can be located anywhere in the world, do not have to fully disclose what is in their products, especially in products such as lipstick and lip balm (which has direct access to be ingested).
While I’m typically not one for more government regulation, I am all for safety. And in this case, just as ingredients must be listed on foods you eat, so should ingredients have to be fully disclosed on products that come in direct contact with your body.
As pointed out in California’s new legislation, salon workers will also be protected, which is a huge win for the the people who work in that industry. Many workers are completely unaware of the toxic chemicals lurking in the products that they are touching and inhaling hour after hour, day in and day out. To the best of my knowledge, few studies have been done to determine safety in salon workers who are exposed to these chemicals in such large amounts.
Sadly, none of this is going into effect until 2025. Why four years from now??? I suppose so that the manufacturers of the toxic products can sell them off first I guess. Such laws rarely prioritize consumer protection, but often protect those who pay off the politicians (and regulators). Four years is a long time to remove ingredients from products. The ingredients are bad enough to be legally banned, but not so bad that it’s acceptable for unsuspecting consumers to use them for another four years? Okay, it’s a start; baby steps I guess.
But really, why so long? Perhaps to give manufacturer’s time to reformulate? There are so many standard cookie cutter recipes that include these ingredients that it really is difficult to make products from scratch without them. Those who have never attempted it, those who follow the cookie cutter recipes and slap on a new marketing label and sell at a profit without regard for consumer health, will have a difficult enough time reformulating using different toxic chemicals, and making the product still look and behave the same. Reformulating without using any toxic ingredients, while still retaining product function, is another challenge beyond that.
Then there’s the issue of what to do with the inventory that has already been created and is just sitting on shelves waiting to be sold. It would certainly be a financial loss if manufacturers were all of a sudden not allowed to sell off pending inventory. And as we all know, the laws always favor big business, and not the health of the little gal. Though I’m making presumptions about why the law goes into effect in four years and not now; I’m sure there’s some fancy explanation somewhere that I’m too exhausted to try to look up.
There is good news though, and that is that consumers are speaking up, and some brands are listening. As noted in Allure (a popular beauty website):
Even without this bill, brand self-regulation and ingredient reputation already play a huge part in what ingredients do and don’t get used. “If at the end of the day, consumers don’t buy, it does not matter if the materials are banned or not,” King says. “The cosmetic ingredient will be driven out of the business.”
The problem being, that people first have to know what’s in a product, and second, know how to identify shady ways that manufacturer’s try to hide what’s really in the products. When one ingredient can have multiple names, and names can sound user friendly, it’s often difficult to decipher what is actually in a product.
Here at Nature’s Complement we keep things simple. We simply don’t add any toxic ingredients, use sterile production technique, and we make our products to be fresh for the consumer. We also use refrigeration as a means of storing and protecting our fragile ingredients instead of using questionable chemicals. While this tactic is not conducive to big business practices, big business practices are often not conducive to consumer health.
So what can individuals do to protect themselves and start the domino affect?
Change buying habits by:
- Read the ingredients label.
- Don’t purchase any products that make it difficult to find ingredients. (We’re finding more and more producers are forcing consumers to go to a website to view ingredients.)
- Don’t purchase any product whose ingredients you can’t figure out what they are.
- Don’t purchase any product whose ingredients you can’t identify by common name.
- Avoid ingredients such as “perfume” and “fragrance” (which can be a concoction of almost 4,000 ingredients).
- Don’t trust a product just because it has your favorite brand name label – read what’s in it.
- Tell your family and friends to also do all of these things.
- Tell your doctor’s and other offices to only stock hand sanitizer that does not have extra ingredients outside of the WHO’s recommendation for hand sanitizer. Many producers are now adding fragrance and other stabilizers, and these are not necessary. (Other producers are using ingredients that can cause blindness; irresponsible behavior among producers is rampant.)
- Most importantly, remember that a brand is just a fancy label. Educate yourself if your favorite brand is a brand you trust doing business with.
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