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Cosmetics Industry Crushes Bill to Make Products Safer

A California bill that would have banned the use of toxic chemicals in makeup and hair care products was effectively crushed by the cosmetics industry this week. The bill, dubbed the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, was set to ban the sale of cosmetics that contain 20 different toxic chemicals associated with reproductive issues, hormone disruption and cancer risk. Bill supporters went up against the $70 billion cosmetics industry — representatives of which claimed it wasn’t backed by substantial scientific evidence and complained it would be a potential job killer.


The “toxic 20” list of ingredients defined in the bill include:

• Phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive and developmental problems

• Parabens, which are carcinogenic and can disrupt hormone function

• Formaldehyde, a known carcinogenic

• Mercury, which has been linked to cancer and reproductive toxicity

• Asbestos, a known carcinogen

Despite the fact that these ingredients and others like them have been banned from cosmetics in other countries, the bill did not pass. These dangerous chemicals are regularly used in makeup, hair care and personal care products like deodorant, body lotion, nail polish, perfume and more. Even with overwhelming evidence proving the health risks of these chemicals, Congress has not updated regulations for the cosmetics industry since it passed a federal cosmetics law in 1938.

The average American woman uses 12 personal care products each day, containing nearly 168 different chemicals. Health risks associated with these chemicals can affect men, women and children alike. Until there is some control over the chemicals used in personal care products, including safety testing and regulation that protects the consumer, it’s up to you to read the label on every product you purchase, to keep yourself and your family safe. Some of the most hazardous chemicals found in personal care products include parabens, BHA and BHT, synthetic colors, fragrance, triclosan, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, toluene and propylene glycol.

The Environmental Working Group has an extensive database that can help you find personal care products that are free of potentially dangerous chemicals. Head on over to their Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to learn more.

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