Statement: Women’s and Salon Worker Health Organizations Applaud California’s Policymakers in Passing Vital Ingredient Disclosure Legislation
SB 312 exposes chemicals of concerns hiding in the fragrance and flavors used in personal care, beauty and professional salon products — and empowers people with information necessary to protect their health
With resounding bi-partisan support, California’s Assembly members passed SB 312 (Sen. Leyva, D-Chino) — Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2020 — legislation which takes significant steps in protecting public health by providing vital ingredient information.
“Consumers should be able to buy great-smelling hair products, lotions, perfume and make-up without worrying that they are exposing themselves – or their families – to cancer-causing chemicals, said Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. “Today, the California Assembly busted open the black box of trade secret protection that for decades has allowed dozens – even hundreds – of secret, often toxic, chemicals to hide in the majority of our personal care and beauty products that smell or taste good, without consumers’ knowledge or consent.”
“We know Black women and other women of color are already overexposed to hazardous chemicals in our beauty and personal care products. SB 312 is an important step to reducing the impact of toxic chemicals on our families and ourselves,” said Nourbese Flint Policy Director at Black Women for Wellness. “While many families across the U.S. are juggling the very real impact of both a pandemic and economic downturn, it is ever more important that our Government is working on behalf of us. Through disclosure of these harmful ingredients, SB 312 creates one less thing that Californians families have to worry about.”
SB 312 is the first bill in the nation to require disclosure of fragrance and flavor ingredients for both retail personal care and professional salon products. Under the bill, cosmetic manufacturers selling beauty or personal care products in California are required to publicly report any hazardous ingredient used to make a fragrance or flavor, including those linked to cancer, reproductive or developmental harm, neurotoxicity, hormone disruption, allergies, and asthma — as well as air and water contaminants, and persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs).
“As the author of SB 312, I’m so excited that this important bill is one step closer to becoming law here in California. It is unacceptable that we actually know more about the fragrance ingredients in cleaning products than those that we use to clean and scent our bodies. SB 312 is supported by over 100 organizations that stand by this measure that empowers consumers, provides appropriate business protections and advances public health,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino).
People have a fundamental right to know what ingredients they are being exposed to whether it is in the home, in the workplace, or public spaces. Knowing what ingredients are used in products is necessary to eliminating the use of harmful ingredients. More transparency on a product-specific basis will not only give the public the ability to avoid ingredients that may harm their health, it’s a crucial first step in ensuring companies move to safer ingredients in products.
“The more we learn about these ingredients, the more it is clear why ingredient transparency is so urgently needed,” said Jamie McConnell, Deputy Director at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “Not only will SB 312 finally help unveil the extent to which hazardous chemicals are present in fragrance and flavor, it will help ensure safer products and encourage reformulations, because companies know that people don’t want to see chemicals linked to cancer in their body wash, or powerful allergens in their lotion.”
At the workplace, salon workers are exposed to fragrances more than the general population, which adds to their already daily exposure to toxic chemicals. In fact, research has found that hair stylists and beauticians have a 47 times higher risk of fragrance skin allergies than people in other occupations.
“With SB 312, professional salon workers will now be able to obtain previously secret information they need to avoid harmful fragrance and flavor ingredients in the beauty products they use every day at work and the power to select safer products for their clients.” said Swati Sharma from the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative.
California has been a leader in ingredient disclosure. In 2017, SB 258 passed, and as a result all cleaning products in the state are required to list ingredients on the label and online, including harmful ingredients used in fragrance. In 2018, AB 2775 passed, becoming the first law in the nation to require disclosure, on the label, of ingredients in professional salon products.
By passing SB 312, California legislators once again demonstrate their commitment to consumer and worker safety, and ingredient transparency.
Beth Conway | Women’s Voices for the Earth
Erika Wilhelm | Breast Cancer Prevention Partners & the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Swati Sharma | California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative
Nourbese Flint | Black Women for Wellness
Black Women for Wellness is a women-centered, multi-generational organization focused on building healthy communities and committed to the health and wellness of Black women and girls through education, empowerment and advocacy. www.bwwla.org
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) is the leading national science-based policy and advocacy organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. www.bcpp.org
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of BCPP, is a national coalition of women’s health, environmental health and justice, consumer rights groups and forward-thinking cosmetics companies. www.safecosmetics.org
Founded in 2005, The California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative is a statewide grassroots organization that addresses health, environmental, reproductive justice, and other social issues faced by its low-income, female, Vietnamese immigrant and refugee workforce. www.cahealthynailsalons.org
Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) is a womxn-led national environmental health organization that works to amplify voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. www.womensvoices.org