California Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act

A display shelf in a cosmetic store holding various shades of pressed powders

August 17, 2020

Could be first state ban on specific ingredients in cosmetic products

In June, the California Assembly passed the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (Assembly Bill No. 2762). If enacted by the Californian Senate, this legislation will be the first in the U.S. to ban specific chemicals for use as ingredients in cosmetic products. The new law is set for a hearing on August 11, 2020, and is expected to take effect from January 1, 2025, affecting all stock in California, whether in store or in the supply chain.

There are 12 chemicals listed in the bill with a further 13 polyfluroalkyl substances (see List 1 below). While this shows progress towards protecting consumers, it is a small step compared to legislation already in place in Europe, where chemicals used in cosmetic products are controlled by the European Cosmetics Regulation (EC) 1223/2009. Annex II of this Regulation lists 1,623 ingredients that are banned, and Annex III lists 312 chemicals that are restricted.

Manufacturers of cosmetics in Europe are used to screening their raw materials for the presence of banned ingredients. In the U.S., where there have been fewer restrictions in place, manufacturers and brands selling in California will need to start checking their formulae and raw materials for the presence of these banned chemicals. To screen effectively, manufacturers will need to learn where chemicals may occur as impurities or carry over from manufacturing processes. Banned chemicals can result from fragmentation of catalysts, residual solvent, co-formulants, processing aids, and many other sources. At Exponent, we have experts with 30+ years of experience checking raw material data and investigating potential sources for chemicals of concern. Exponent experts can work with you and your suppliers to check your products and raw materials for these chemicals and to confirm compliance with AB 2762.

2025 may seem far away; however, as this legislation applies to stock in store and in the supply chain, and as cosmetic products can have many years in distribution, taking the time to check and confirm compliance now can help avoid expensive problems in the future.

List 1 - Chemicals listed in AB No. 2762

  1. Dibutyl phthalate (CAS no. 84-74-2).
  2. Diethylhexyl phthalate (CAS no. 117-81-7).
  3. Formaldehyde (CAS no. 50-00-0).
  4. Paraformaldehyde (CAS no. 30525-89-4).
  5. Methylene glycol (CAS no. 463-57-0).
  6. Quaternium-15 (CAS no. 51229-78-8).
  7. Mercury (CAS no. 7439-97-6).
  8. Isobutylparaben (CAS no. 4247-02-3).
  9. Isopropylparaben (CAS no. 4191-73-5).
  10. m-Phenylenediamine and its salts (CAS no. 108-45-2).
  11. o-Phenylenediamine and its salts (CAS no. 95-54-5).
  12. The following long-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their salts:
    1. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS); heptadecafluorooctane-1-sulfonic acid (CAS no. 1763-23-1).
    2. Potassium perfluorooctanesulfonate; potassium heptadecafluorooctane-1-sulfonate (CAS no. 2795-39-3).
    3. Diethanolamine perfluorooctane sulfonate (CAS 70225-14-8).
    4. Ammonium perfluorooctane sulfonate; ammonium heptadecafluorooctanesulfonate (CAS 29081-56-9).
    5. Lithium perfluorooctane sulfonate; lithium heptadecafluorooctanesulfonate (CAS 29457-72-5).
    6. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)(CAS no. 335-67-1).
    7. Ammonium pentadecafluorooctanoate (CAS no. 3825-26-1).
    8. Nonadecafluorodecanoic acid (CAS no. 355-76-2).
    9. Ammonium nonadecafluorodecanoate (CAS no. 3108-42-7).
    10. Sodium nonadecafluorodecanoate (CAS no. 3830-45-3).
    11. Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)(CAS no. 375-95-1).
    12. Sodium heptadecafluorononanoate (CAS no. 21049-39-8).
    13. Ammonium perfluorononanoate (CAS no. 4149-60-4).

How Exponent Can Help

Our cosmetic regulatory team has decades of experience working across all areas of the personal care industry, including product development, distribution, and manufacturing of cosmetic and toiletry products.

Our health scientists and regulatory consultants work with clients to address a variety of issues including:

  • Determining whether products contain Proposition 65 listed chemicals. 
  • Sampling of products including market basket studies for listed substances in food products. 
  • Conducting exposure assessments, including dietary consumption, worker, consumer, or residential exposure. 
  • Evaluation and development of No Significant Risk Levels (NSRLs) or Maximum Acceptable Daily Doses (MADLs). 
  • Assessing exposure by comparing levels in products to NSRLs or MADLs.