Washington’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act: A Step Towards Safer Beauty Products

3 min reading time

Washington State has taken a significant step towards ensuring the safety of cosmetics and personal care products by enacting the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (HB 1047).

Signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee on May 15, 2023, the Act is considered the strongest law in the nation regulating cosmetics and personal care products. The legislation aims to eliminate the use of toxic ingredients in these products, prioritizing consumer safety and sustainable practices.

Addressing Toxic Chemicals in Cosmetics

The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act bans some of the most concerning chemicals found in cosmetic and personal care products, including PFAS, phthalates, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde-releasing agents.

You shouldn’t have to be a toxicologist to shop for personal care products. When products are on the shelf, we assume they are safe to use, but this is not always the case. Many cosmetics contain toxic chemicals and that those with the highest concentrations are often marketed to women of colour.”

Act sponsor, Washington State Representative Sharlett Mena

Starting from January 1, 2025, the Act prohibits the manufacture, sale, distribution, or use of any cosmetic product in Washington State that contains intentionally added chemicals or chemical classes, including ortho-phthalates, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and formaldehyde (CAS 50-00-0) and chemicals determined by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) to release formaldehyde.

Industry Support and Global Impact

The beauty industry, including major brands like Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Sephora, and Procter & Gamble, has shown widespread support for these regulations. Many mainstream brands and retailers have already started moving into the clean beauty space, and the new regulations aim to establish consistency in what “clean beauty” means and ensure the safety of cosmetics and personal care products for consumers.

The Act plays an important role in making cosmetics and personal care products safer by helping to drive the transformation of global supply chain. Washington’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act goes further than any other state or federal law in banning chemicals of concern in beauty and personal care products, including PFAS, lead, phthalates, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde-releasing agents

A Growing Trend in Cosmetics Regulation

Washington’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act follows the footsteps of California’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, which was passed in 2020. State laws regulating ingredients in cosmetics are becoming increasingly important in light of the passage of the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act (MOCRA). While MOCRA takes several steps to advance cosmetics safety forward, it does not ban toxic chemicals from use in these products and leaves room for state-level regulations to fill the gaps.

As more states take action to regulate toxic chemicals in cosmetics, the clean beauty industry is expected to continue growing, providing consumers with safer and more sustainable options for personal care products.

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