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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.
  • The strongest state law in the country regulating toxic chemicals in beauty and personal care products, Washington’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, was signed by Governor Inslee on May 15, 2023. This law plays an important part in making cosmetics and personal care products safer in Washington state and beyond by helping to drive the transformation of global supply chains.


Our recent victories


Our Priorities

EPA: Expand Safer Choice

EPA’s Safer Choice label on a product assures consumers that each ingredient has been evaluated for its hazard and the most dangerous chemicals like PFAS, phthalates, and formaldehyde are prohibited. To meet the growing demand for safer products, EPA must dramatically expand Safer Choice to include products like cosmetics, personal care products, and formulated building products that often contain highly hazardous unregulated chemicals like PFAS that threaten our families’ health.

A woman standing in a store looking at haircare products

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).