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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.”

Federal regulation on cosmetics hasn’t been updated since 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.

Certain products with toxic ingredients are used in greater quantity 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.

  • 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.

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.