Legislative Bans on Harmful Chemicals for Beauty and Personal Care Products Beauty Companies face Regulatory Mandates

Legislative Bans on Harmful Chemicals for Beauty and Personal Care Products

Beauty Companies face Regulatory Mandates


Harmful ingredients in beauty products expose people to potential risk that is particularly endangering to the people of color. Generally speaking, Black women spend more on beauty products than any other ethnic group. Regulations on beauty products containing harmful chemicals have long sought after, and as the public sentiment on safe beauty products grows, relevant legislation is gaining momentum. The result is more pressure on beauty manufacturers and retailers to bring products free of harmful chemicals.



Ongoing legislative effort to ban harmful ingredients in beauty products

Legislative efforts to ban harmful ingredients from beauty and personal care products are gaining momentum at state and federal levels. California (Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, AB 2762), Maryland (House Bill 643), and Washington (Toxic-Free Beauty Act) already placed some form of bans. (The relevant laws were passed in 2023 in California, 2021 in Maryland, and May of 2023 in Washington). Additionally, at least 12 other states, including Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Islands, Texas, and Vermont, are moving to regulate the disclosure of or outright ban of harmful chemical ingredients in beauty products.




Products typically sold at beauty supplies with most harmful ingredients

Hair relaxers

According to the NIH, a woman who is exposed to hair relaxing treatment four or more times a year is twice more likely to develop uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine fibroids. Following the publication of the research, class actions against hair relaxer brands have been on the rise.

Manicure and treatment products

Black women represent a higher portion of customers who use acrylic nail treatment services in America. Polishes, removers and other acrylic products contain chemicals that can cause serious harmful health effects including cancer, damages to sexual organs, respiratory organs, and nerve system.

Skin whitener

Skin whitening products, such as bleaching creams, are popular skin care products especially for women of color.  However, many skin whitening creams, sanitizing soaps, and lotions include hydroquinone, which is not approved for over-the-counter medicine in the U.S, as well as mercury, which is banned for skin lightening products.

Hair colors

Phenylenediamine is widely used in permanent color products and tints and known to cause skin inflammation, cancer, and DNA mutation.

App to find out harmful chemical ingredients in beauty products

You can scan a barcode of a product using Clearya, Skin Deep, ThinkDirty and other online apps to see the entire ingredient and harmful chemicals included in the product.


Result screen of Clearya app shows harmful chemical ingredients Source: Clearya


Beauty retailers make changes to meet the demand for non-toxic cosmetics

NPD Group, a marketing research firm, reported that while the natural-ingredient beauty product market grew 10%, other beauty and luxury beauty products grew only 3.8%. Accordingly, many beauty retailers are making efforts to meet the market change and demand.

Sephora launched a program called Clean at Sephora featuring products free of toxic chemicals, and it will clearly indicate if a product meets the standard for clean beauty through categorizing. Also, it expanded policies to include toxic chemicals commonly used in products for ethnic customers.

ULTA requires the suppliers of its own store-brand products to remove high risk chemicals. Also, a new Conscious Beauty category includes animal cruelty free vegan products in sustainable packages.

Whole Foods Market banned more than 100 chemicals including parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, oxybenzone and EDTA from all of its body product offerings.

Credo Beauty, a company established to promote safe ingredients and sustainability, has composed the Dirty List including more than 2,700 harmful chemical ingredients that are banned from its products.


Clean at Sephora section includes only non-toxic products.
Those categorized as non-toxic products bear the Clean at Sephora logo.
Source: Sephora


How regulations would impact manufacturers

In late 2022, the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MoCRA) passed the Congress expanding the FDA’s authority to regulate cosmetics. Although it did not specify ingredients to be banned or regulated, the expansion of FDA’s authority will certainly raise the bar for cosmetics manufacturers. Should the legislative efforts in the states succeed, many manufacturers will face varying standards per state, which will likely cause some confusion. All beauty brands must be aware of the up-to-date federal regulation as to the cosmetics, and they must prepare for the upcoming legislation.


*The above content is based on generally available information and cannot replace legal counsel. BNB Magazine has no legal responsibility for the content.


BNB 매거진 2023년 9월호 ©bnbmag.com