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California legislature passes bill that will ban 26 chemicals in cosmetics linked to cancer, reproductive harm, and birth defects

Cosmetics-2611803_640A bill banning the sale of cosmetic products that contain 26 toxic chemicals known to affect human health passed the California State Legislature Wednesday. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign it.

The law would ban hazardous substances such as some borate compounds, lily aldehyde, cyclotetrasiloxane, trichloroacetic acid, styrene, and certain colors.

“Personal care products and cosmetics should be non-toxic for everyone,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman, author of the legislation. “If you consider that the European Union prohibits almost 2,500 chemicals in such products, a ban in California on these noxious carcinogens and endocrine disruptors is long overdue.”

The bill prohibits ingredients the European Union already bans in cosmetics and personal care products because of their potential health risks.

Many of the 26 chemicals listed in the bill are linked to health problems, including a higher risk of cancer, genetic defects, harm to the developing fetus, impaired fertility, severe skin burns, and organ or eye damage, as well as high- and long-lasting toxicity to aquatic life.

In 2020, California banned 24 chemicals from use in personal care products with the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act. Last year, the state prohibited “forever chemicals” or PFAS from being added to cosmetics.

The new law builds on the progress that has already been made and bans more harmful chemicals from the products consumers use daily, said Susan Little, the Environmental Working Group’s senior advocate for California government affairs.  

“Consumers are demanding safer products, and this bill will help protect people from further exposure to ingredients that could harm them,” Little said.

More than 80 nations shield their citizens from cosmetics made with chemicals of concern, she said, but the United States hasn’t provided similar safeguards. 

If a manufacturer is required to satisfy California standards, it will likely adhere to the same standard with products it sends to the rest of the country.

“In the absence of comprehensive federal protection, it falls on states to step up and ensure the removal of these harmful substances from our daily routines,” said Melanie Benesh, EWG vice president of government affairs.

To protect yourself, check for toxin in the cosmetics you use at the EWG’s


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Carol Cassara

This has been on my radar screen for years now, thank you for continuing to remind us all.

Rebecca Olkowski

It's amazing the chemicals the US allows in not only cosmetics but also in some foods, especially dyes. Still, some essential oils in cosmetics are more prone to cause allergic reactions so there needs to be science behind the manufacturing of beauty products for safety as well.


Toxins in cosmetics are something everyone needs to be aware of. And, also, toxins in foods as well through additives and pesticides. Fortunately, the European Union does a better job of banning harmful chemicals and regulators in the U.S. can follow its lead. Thankfully, California, too, is willing to be a leader on this.

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