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Federal regulation on cosmetics hasn’t been updated since the adoption of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938. Hazardous chemicals such as phthalates, PFAS, and formaldehyde are legally used in a wide array of products from shampoo to lip gloss.


Most people assume cosmetics and personal care products are tested for safety before they land on store shelves. But the truth is that companies legally put chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and reproductive harm in the products we use every day. A shocking number of dangerous chemicals hide in personal care products and cosmetics under the word “fragrance.”

Certain products with toxic ingredients are used in greater quantities by people of color, resulting in a disproportionate impact. Products like skin lighteners, hair relaxers, and acrylic nails are often marketed to people of color or applied to customers by people of color and contain some of the most worrisome ingredients in cosmetics.

We can have safer cosmetics and personal care products

Toxic-Free Future’s science and research, along with our policy advocacy in Washington, DC, Washington state, other states, and corporate boardrooms, have led to governments and major retailers taking action on toxic personal care products.

We are targeting the most dangerous chemicals in cosmetics, such as phthalates, PFAS, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, and siloxanes, and advocating for policies in Washington state and by retailers to ban these chemicals and make sure they are replaced with safer alternatives.

Our Impact

  • Major retailers including Sephora, Target, CVS, and others are reducing and eliminating toxic chemicals, such as phthalates, formaldehyde releasers, and parabens, in makeup and personal care products.
  • Washington state is pursuing regulatory action on phthalates used as fragrance in cosmetics and testing products marketed to people of color for hazardous chemicals. Learn more about Washington state’s 2023 Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act.

Our Priorities

Washington's Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act 2023

Thousands of cosmetics and personal care products are used by people every day and the chemicals used to make them are largely unregulated. Besides potentially harming the person using the product, products with these toxic ingredients can also cause larger-scale pollution problems during manufacturing and after disposal. This is why we are advocating for Washington’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (HB 1047).