Last week, California became the first state in the nation to ban 24 toxic chemicals from cosmetics. Signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 30, the groundbreaking law goes into effect in 2025.

“This landmark bill will ban cosmetics in California that contain 24 toxic chemicals known to cause cancer, reproductive harm and hormone disruption,” Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat from Torrance who sponsored the legislation, said in a press release. “The science is clear on the harmful nature of these chemicals and AB 2762 will provide Californians with the same consumer protections already provided in the European Union.”

According to the nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the “EU Cosmetics Directive” bans 1,328 chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects from cosmetic products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, on the other hand, has restricted or banned only 11 toxic chemicals from cosmetics.

The toxic chemicals banned in California include PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances), nicknamed the “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in the environment. Human-made chemicals, PFAS may bioaccumulate in the body over time and may be associated with weight gain, reduced immune function, reproductive changes and other health issues. In July, MedTruth reported on a new study suggesting an association between women’s exposure to PFAS and earlier menopause.

Also on Sept. 30 Gov. Newsom signed a related piece of legislation into law, “The Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2020,” requiring companies to disclose the presence of harmful ingredients in their beauty and personal care products beginning in 2022.

Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics Banned In California
  • Dibutyl phthalate
  • Diethylhexyl phthalate
  • Formaldehyde
  • Paraformaldehyde
  • Methylene glycol
  • Quaternium-15
  • Mercury
  • Isobutylparaben
  • Isopropylparaben
  • m-Phenylenediamine and its salts
  • o-Phenylenediamine and its salts

These PFAS and their salts:

  • Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS); heptadecafluorooctane-1-sulfonic acid
  • Potassium perfluorooctanesulfonate; potassium heptadecafluorooctane-1-sulfonate
  • Diethanolamine perfluorooctane sulfonate
  • Ammonium perfluorooctane sulfonate; ammonium heptadecafluorooctanesulfonate
  • Lithium perfluorooctane sulfonate; lithium heptadecafluorooctanesulfonate
  • Perfluorooctanoic acid
  • Ammonium pentadecafluorooctanoate
  • Nonadecafluorodecanoic acid
  • Ammonium nonadecafluorodecanoate
  • Sodium nonadecafluorodecanoate
  • Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)
  • Sodium heptadecafluorononanoate
  • Ammonium perfluorononanoate