Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, Washington state has helped us all!

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: with the passage of the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, Washington state has helped us all! This is the 12th law in 10 years that Beautycounter has advocated for. We all helped to make this happen!

AGAIN! This is the 12th health protective law in 10 years that Beautycounter has advocated for that has been passed!

What is the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act

The legislation, Washington’s Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, bans more chemicals of concern in beauty and personal care products than any other state or federal law. This includes: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS forever chemicals), lead, phthalates, triclosan, mercury, formaldehyde-releasing agents among the chemicals of concern banned more than any other state or federal law.  Which is great, since the recently failed Federal legislation didn’t pass and MoCRA (passed in late 2022) is not comprehensive.

Washington state has signed the US’ strongest act regulating cosmetics and personal care into law. The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (HB 1047) was signed by Governor Jay Inslee on May 15, 2023. The bans will take effect in 2025, except for formaldehyde releasers, which have a phased-in approach beginning 2026.

“Products we put on our bodies should only be made with the safest ingredients. Thanks to the leadership by our state legislature and Governor, cosmetics will be free of known harmful chemicals like PFAS, lead and formaldehyde and the transition to safer cosmetics and personal care products will be supported. The entire nation will benefit from a cleaner supply chain and information on safer alternatives.” (1)

This is the first state law on cosmetics and personal care products to:

  • Ban the class of ortho-phthalates, all formaldehyde-releasing agents, and triclosan;
  • Restrict lead;
  • Require state agencies to assess the hazards of chemicals used in products that can impact vulnerable populations; and,
  • Provide support for small businesses and independent cosmetologists to transition to safer products. (1)

Even better, this law will continue to protect us for years to come. It requires the assessment of chemicals that can impact populations disproportionately affected (BIPOC community). And, aims to begin addressing the  impact to people of color with this new law. It also creates incentives for ‘safer’ products.

[source, (1)]

Why we need it

“This is a huge step in the right direction for making professional products safer for beauty industry professionals, as well as safer personal care products at the consumer level,” said Merideth Pedack, cosmetologist for 28 years. (1)

Studies have shown women of color are disproportionately exposed to harmful chemicals in cosmetics. A 2022 study found an increased risk of uterine cancer in women who used hair straightening products, which often contain the known human carcinogen formaldehyde. In January, the Washington State Departments of Ecology and Health issued a report that found high levels of formaldehyde in certain hair products, creams, and lotions marketed to or used by people of color. (2)

“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,” said the act’s sponsor, Washington State Representative Sharlett Mena, of the signing. “Many cosmetics contain toxic chemicals and that those with the highest concentrations are often marketed to women of colour.” (3)

Washington’s action builds on other state laws in six states. California, New York, Maryland, Minnesota, Maine and Colorado have also stepped up the regulation of substances used in cosmetics and personal care products.

Who Was For & Against

As consumers, it’s important to know who has your best interests in mind. “Opposition to this legislation included the Personal Care Products Council, L’Oreal, Shiseido, Unilever, among others. These groups requested a veto of the bill, citing concerns especially around banning lead, for which experts widely agree there is no safe level, as well as formaldehyde-releasing agents, chemicals that emit formaldehyde over time, despite the widespread availability and use of safer alternatives.” (1)

Meanwhile, Beautycounter was cited as being an example to prove “Many companies have demonstrated that banning hazardous chemicals is good business.”  In fact we advocated for and testified on behalf of and in support of the bill. “We are inspired by this milestone and our community’s advocacy work to get safer products into the hands of everyone,” said Jen Lee, Chief Impact Officer, Beautycounter. (4)

I myself went to Washington, DC last year to advocate for safer personal care laws for all. It is a huge passion! I am thrilled to see such progress and hopefully for our futures. Especially for our children, who can hopefully have better long-term health as a result of these upcoming changes. This recent scientific study shows that we can reverse some of the damage. And regulatory changes are going to drive businesses to get there.

Read more about my advocacy work here

How this helps us all

The reason that numerous brands opposed this state law, is because they manufacture one product formula for all of the United States. Washington will likely not get “their own” formulas or separate products. Which means, hopefully, brands are going to finally be accountable for making products safer for everyone. Although, it will be interesting to see how all of this new legislation unfolds. Recent proposed legislation would require Congress to approve “major rules” created by Federal agencies.

“This is a move to stifle progress and oversight of industries, and environmental progress, public health protections and consumer safety would be jeopardized. Our democracy was built on the premise that we stay informed and active, please make a call today! Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121” from @Lindsay_Dahl

Let’s hope we can see the change that consumers have asked our representatives for. Is it enough? Not yet. But it’s the furthest we’ve come yet. And, it’s worth of BIG celebration!


  1. Toxic Free Future, Washington State Senate Approves Toxic Free Cosmetics Act
  2. Toxic Free Future, High levels of formaldehyde found in personal care products according to new report issued by the Washington State Department of Ecology
  3. Cosmetics Business, Washington State Signs Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act
  4. Beautycounter, Washington State’s Toxic Free Cosmetics Act Signed Into Law
  5. PubMed: Reduction of daily-use parabens and phthalates reverses accumulation of cancer-associated phenotypes within disease-free breast tissue of study subjects
  6. Lindsay Dahl, Call to Action

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