Together with a rapid expansion of the beauty industry, we are free to select from a wide variety of personal care products. Have you ever wondered what really makes us buy a certain product? Is it the magical formula that chemists in white coats are developing in their secret labs? Or is it the feeling and story behind it? Studies show that the emotional aspect has a great impact on our purchase choices. However, at present a growing number of consumers pay more attention to the ingredients included in the cosmetics they use to make sure that their choices will not pose a risk to their health and well-being.
Californians are now on fire, leaving no stone unturned to protect themselves from any carcinogenic cosmetics. So, what exactly is happening in California at the moment? Scroll down to read more!
A few words on cosmetics regulation in the EU
Before we move to California, let’s have a look at the problem from a wider perspective. In Europe, beauty products have been subject to governmental control for over 10 years now with the first regulations introduced already in 2006 and the following years. Around 100 toxic ingredients are banned from use by this EU Cosmetics Regulation, and around 1,000 in all regulations all together.
The purpose of introducing such legislation is to improve the safety of personal care products for all producers in the sector. The lawmakers in their meticulous work have prepared a large list of ingredients that are fully prohibited, but also specified certain types of colorants or preservatives, that even far from being natural, would not cause harm to buyers.
Is US regulation any different to the European?
Even though the US and EU share a common goal of ensuring safety of cosmetics, beauty products in the former seem to be much less regulated until now. Until 2019, only 11 toxic substances that may cause cancer or birth defects have been banned.
The difference in numbers could be striking, however various experts disagree that the gap in statistics is truly meaningful, as most of the items included in the European list would never be used as ingredients in cosmetics production anyway.
California lawmakers have decided to put their hands on the issue and created the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act. Called also California Assembly Bill 495, or simply AB 495, has as its aim to outlaw trading beauty products with ingredients such as asbestos, mercury, propylparaben, formaldehyde, and others.
Do any of these ingredients sound familiar to you? Let’s put asbestos on the stands. Widely known for being used to build cement blocks, but also found to contaminate a talcum powder for commercial use. Talc as we know it has this amazing silky feeling and is great to fight oily skin. That is why manufacturers often use it to add to makeup products, including children’s makeup manufactured by one popular brand. More examples of the notorious Toxic Twenty list can be found here.
How to make sure we choose safe products only?
- Check the list of ingredients – first things first: there always should be a label! The list can be found usually on the back of the packaging, box or in the leaflet. What is important to remember is that the list starts with those ingredients with the highest concentration in the product. What to do if the list is just endless? Keep in mind that in most cases, the first 5 ingredients make up the bulk of the formula, the rest can be found in trace amounts.
- Understand the symbols on the labels – one of the tricks is to understand what the beauty products reveal. For example, an open jar symbol indicates a period that a certain product may be used for. Or a leaping bunny means that the product has not been tested on animals.
- Opt for brands producing natural products – there are more and more cosmetics brands to choose to replace chemicals-filled products with plant-derived ingredients and their business is booming now! Do not be afraid to drop your favorite drugstore conditioner that was your favorite for many years. You will be positively surprised how effective natural products are without breaking the bank!
- Go online – no need to memorize a full list of potentially harmful ingredients added to shampoos or makeup we use. With the new websites and applications available, it’s never been easier! Just type the name of the ingredient you have found on the label and check if it is safe to use. Some of the apps to go for are: Good Guide, Think Dirty and CosmEthics- search online for more!
- Shop at safe places – who’s never been tempted to check out this 50% cheaper foundation of the well-known brand that you just found on Amazon? Or to purchase some dupes of high-end makeup brands? While we’re all up for the affordable dupes for cult-favorite products, let’s not get tricked! Make sure that those cosmetics are cheaper because of different packaging, applicators, or just brand name – without going low on the ingredients’ quality.
Final words on toxic ingredients and the new regulation
What needs to be emphasized about the presence of any toxic ingredients in personal care products is that it is not exactly the manufacturers who are to blame, but rather lack of regulation around it. Because of the non-existing legislation controlling it, the companies are not obliged to check for traces of potentially harming substances.
If you agree with the initiative of AB 495 and would like to join the fight for toxic-free cosmetics in California, check out the Environmental Working Group website to give them heads up and show your support!
How did you like Agata Szubstarska’s blog post “California’s Ban on Carcinogenic Cosmetics”? Let us know in the comments if you have anything to add, have another content idea for beauty content marketing blog posts, or just want to say “hello.” 🙂