Washington is the Latest State to Attempt to Ban Toxic Substances in Hair Products

Washington is the Latest State to Attempt to Ban Toxic Substances in Hair Products

Several states have been trying to stop toxic chemicals inside of cosmetics from hitting shelves. Washington is the latest state to join this fight. 

A study, which was funded by the state, showed that toxic cosmetics could be troublesome for women of color, because women of color use cosmetics more than white women.

“Companies are adding preservatives like formaldehyde to cosmetics products,” Iris Deng, a researcher for the Washington State Department, wrote. “Lead and arsenic are different stories. They’re detected as contaminants.”

The authors of the research said, in Europe, products like CoverGirl foundation are banned. The report said that arsenic and lead exposure have been linked to damage of the brain and nervous system.

“When we find these chemicals in products applied directly to our bodies, we know people are being exposed,” Marissa Smith, Washington state’s senior toxicologist, wrote.

States such as Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont are poring over policies that would ban toxic chemicals in cosmetics and other personal care products.

The federal government has limited authority, which is why states are acting on this. “The FDA has had limited resources to pursue ingredient bans,” Melanie Benesh, president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, said.   

Lynn Bergeson added the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act can regulate chemicals, but the FDA can only regulate color additives and chemicals in sunscreen

The state of Minnesota tests for mercury, hydroquinone, and steroids in skin-lightening products. In 2013, the state passed a law that banned formaldehyde in children’s products, such as lotions and bubble baths.

California passed the California Safe Cosmetics Act in 2005, which banned perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS

In 2021, Colorado also banned the chemical PFAS in makeup and other products.