A program of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

Laws and Regulations

State, federal, and international laws governing cosmetics

State Laws

In the absence of meaningful federal oversight of the cosmetics industry, states have taken steps to regulate the safety of cosmetics to ensure consumers have more ingredient information and access to safer products. Numerous states have adopted safe cosmetics legislation.

  • In 2005, California enacted the Safe Cosmetics Act, which requires manufacturers to disclose to the state the sale of any cosmetic product that contains a Proposition 65 chemical known to the state to cause cancer or birth defects. Since the California Safe Cosmetics Program Product Database went live in 2009, 583 companies have reported the sale of 86,376 beauty and personal care products in California containing 94 unique Prop. 65 carcinogens and reproductive toxicants. 
  • In 2018, California enacted the Professional Cosmetics Labeling Requirements Act (CA AB 2775) to require companies that sell professional salon products in California to list ingredients on the product label. Now, salon workers and their clients have access to the information they need to avoid the risk of exposure to toxic chemicals like toluene, formaldehyde, and phthalates
  • In 2020, California enacted the CA Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (AB 2762), which  bans 24 toxic chemicals from cosmetic products sold in California. These ingredients include mercury, formaldehyde, 13 PFAS chemicals, and some of the most toxic parabens and phthalates. These ingredients have already been banned from cosmetics sold in the European Union, and most are linked to breast cancer. The ban will go into effect in 2025. Learn More 
  • In 2020, California enacted the CA Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act (SB 312) which mandates the disclosure of the secret ingredients that make up fragrance in cosmetic products sold in California. It requires companies that sell beauty or personal care products in California to report fragrance or flavor ingredients linked to harm to human health or the environment to the California Safe Cosmetics Program Database, which then makes that information publicly available. Learn More
  • In 2022, California enacted the CA PFAS-FREE Cosmetics Act (AB2771), which bans the entire class of per- and polyfluorinated (PFAS), commonly known as “Forever Chemicals,” from personal care and beauty products sold in California. PFAS are linked to breast cancer and numerous other health concerns. They pollute our drinking water and persist in the environment, harming wildlife and ecosystems. The ban will go into effect in 2025. 
  • In 2022, Colorado enacted a ban on the entire class of per- and polyfluorinated (PFAS) chemicals from cosmetics. The ban will go into effect in 2024.

Minnesota banned formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical, in children’s personal care products like lotions, shampoos and bubble baths in 2013. The ban against the use of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives applies to products intended for children under eight.

US Laws

We all deserve access to personal care and beauty products that are free from cancer-causing and other harmful chemicals, no matter where we live, work, or shop. 

These 4 bills aim to make beauty and personal care products safer for all. Take Action to help pass these bills! 

The Toxic Free Beauty Act bans 11 of the most toxic chemicals on the planet from beauty and personal care products sold in the U.S. Authored by Reps. Schakowsky and Fletcher.

NGO bill leads:

The Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act requires the disclosure of the secret, unlabeled fragrance and flavor chemicals in personal care products that are toxic to human health and the environment. Authored by Reps. Schakowsky and Matsui.

NGO bill leads:

Learn More > 

The Cosmetic Safety for Communities of Color and Professional Salon Workers Act creates cosmetic safety protections for these two vulnerable populations who are most at risk of hazardous exposures because of toxic chemicals in the products marketed to them or commonly found in their workplaces. Authored by Reps. Schakowsky and Blunt-Rochester.

NGO bill leads:

US Regulations

In 2022, President Biden signed the Modernization of Cosmetic Regulations Act (MoCRA) into law, which achieved many core goals of BCPP’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. MoCRA brought our country’s antiquated regulatory framework for cosmetic safety into the 21st century by making many constructive and long-overdue reforms, including: 

  • Requiring formal FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration) registration of cosmetic facilities, products, and ingredients;
  • Establishing good manufacturing practices;
  • Requiring serious adverse event reporting;
  • Requiring companies to disclose fragrance and flavor ingredients to the FDA;
  • Requiring the public disclosure of professional salon product ingredients, including fragrance allergens;
  • Creating standardized testing for asbestos contamination in talc; and
  • Giving the FDA the authority it urgently needs to recall cosmetic products that harm human health.

Despite these positive changes, more work is needed to ensure the ingredients in cosmetic products are safe and public, so we can all make informed choices about our health. 

Unfortunately, MoCRA codified a weak safety standard. First, it does not direct or permit the FDA to audit the records of companies to determine if they are adequately substantiating the safety of product ingredients. And equally troubling, MoCRA does not direct the FDA to verify the safety of cosmetic ingredients. Finally, it does not require the FDA to conduct pre-market reviews of cosmetic products to ensure they’re safe before they reach store shelves. 

The new federal law also included sweeping federal preemption. It prohibits the states from legislating on cosmetic safety, preserving only states’ right to ban or restrict individual chemicals from cosmetics. Thankfully, it does not preempt existing reporting laws. 

Fortunately, Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s Safer Beauty Bill Package picks up where MoCRA left off by addressing critical gaps in cosmetic safety that impact everyone, especially women of color and professional salon workers. 

This suite of four bills will ban the worst chemicals from cosmetics, require full fragrance ingredient disclosure, protect communities of color and salon workers, and require supply chain transparency so companies get the information they need from upstream suppliers to make safer products. 

International Laws

Canadian cosmetics regulations, like European Union regulations, are much stricter than those in the United States.

Unlike in the U.S. where cosmetic product registration and ingredient disclosure is voluntary, the Canadian Cosmetic Regulations and Food and Drugs Act require that cosmetics manufacturers and importers must:

  • notify Health Canada that they are selling a cosmetic product
  • provide full disclosure as to the product’s ingredients

The Canadian government created and regularly updates a Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist that includes hundreds of chemicals and contaminants prohibited and restricted from use in cosmetics such as resorcinol, benzene, formaldehyde, nitrosamines and 1,4-dioxane — all of which are allowed in U.S. products.

Labeling requirements that went into effect in 2006 require ingredient lists to appear on all cosmetic product labels.

The 27-country European Union has more stringent and protective laws for personal care and beauty products than the United States and leads the world in terms of cosmetic safety regulation. The hazard-based, precautionary approach of the EU acknowledges that chemicals linked to cancer, genetic damage and reproductive problems (infertility and birth defects) don’t belong in cosmetics – regardless of the chemical’s concentration.

The United States has much to learn from the EU approach. The EU Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC) was adopted in 1976, revised in 2009 to become a higher-order law (Regulation (EC) N° 1223/2009), and has undergone frequent updates since then – a total of 37 amendments since the law entered into force in 2013. As of January 2022, the EU law  bans 1693 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects (Annex II), and specifies the maximum concentrations permitted or other restrictions for 324 chemicals (Annex III). In comparison, the U.S. FDA has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics. Unlike the United States, EU law requires pre-market safety assessments of cosmetics, mandatory registration of cosmetic products, government authorization for the use of nanomaterials and prohibits animal testing for cosmetic purposes. It also makes individual EU countries responsible for market surveillance at the national level. This involves monitoring products for conformity with the law, enforcing the law, and coordinating on related matters with the other EU countries. When national authorities require product recalls, it is reported on the EU’s Rapid Alert system for dangerous goods, called RAPEX. The RAPEX system originated from the General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC (GPSD), an EC law which came into force on January 15, 2004.

More Information:

EU Regulations and Scientific Assessments on Cosmetics

EU Cosmetics Legislation – legal texts, annexes

EU Rapid Alert (RAPEX) system

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