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This Simply In: California One Step Nearer To Banning 12 Beauty Substances

The bill bans 12 specific chemicals (including mercury, several types of formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, and PFAS) from cosmetic products, all of which have been previously called into question by clean retailers, journalists, and the like.

And most of these chemicals reside in common household products: namely, waterproof makeup, sunscreens, shampoos, shaving creams, perfumes, and hair straighteners and dyes. They’re usually classed as preservatives on those ingredient labels, but in other instances, they’re not so easy to spot: Sometimes, they lie under the simple guise of “fragrance.” As Susan Little, senior advocate for California government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, explains, “Fragrance is the code word for hidden ingredients.” (Which is why many experts say to opt for fragrance-free items, look for products that use natural oils for scents or transparently outline their fragrance notes and ingredients.)

“I want my daughter growing up in a state where I don’t have to examine the label, and be an expert toxicologist, to know the soaps, face creams, and toothpastes that are safe for her to use,” lead author of the legislation, assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, says in a news release. It’s the very reason he introduced the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act—to ensure consumers could trust the products they purchase on the regular (without having to look up any iffy ingredients). 

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