Lawmakers are taking beauty ingredients more seriously.
A new bill attempts to ban asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, and 17 other toxic chemicals in cosmetics. California lawmakers introduced the landmark bill on Tuesday, noting that sales of such products would be deemed illegal in the state. AB 495, the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, would be the first of its kind in the country.
“Californians deserve to know whether the cosmetic products they purchase in the state are not harmful to their health,” assembly member Al Muratsuchi (D), a co-sponsor of the state bill, said in a statement, reports The Hill. “AB 495 will protect consumers by banning the sale in California of cosmetics containing known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and endocrine disruptors that are harmful to human health.”
The bill comes on the heels of the Claire’s Boutique makeup scandal. Earlier this month, the FDA urged consumers to stop using three of the chain’s products which reportedly contained tremolite asbestos.
Consumer watchdog groups and health advocates have long criticized regulation of the U.S. beauty industry, which sees little oversight. While the European Union bans 1,300 chemicals in personal care products, the United States has partially banned just 11 chemicals. A recent report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that U.S. regulation of chemicals and contaminants in cosmetics dramatically falls behind 40 other nations.
The activist group notes that while many brands are phasing out harmful chemicals, they are still legal. Several big chains, including CVS Health, Target, Rite Aid and Walgreens, have publicly committed to restricting these ingredients from their own cosmetic brands.
Many startups and smaller retailers are capitalizing on increased consumer interest in the booming “clean beauty” sector. A recent survey found that 75% of millennials say buying natural beauty products–viewed as healthier–is important to them. Such trends encouraged beauty retailers like Sephora to launch clean beauty categories and labels.
Meanwhile, companies such as Beautycounter educate the public on how to scan for harmful ingredients. The brand, which also sells its own line of cosmetics, has been instrumental in lobbying at the state and federal level for tighter regulation of the $86 billion beauty and personal-care industry.
Last year, Beautycounter led 100 representatives to Capitol Hill to speak with 12 different offices in the U.S. Senate. They rallied to support the Personal Care Products Safety Act (PCPSA), which sought to strengthen the FDA’s authority to regulate ingredients in beauty and hygiene products. The new legislation, cowritten by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), was originally introduced in 2015.