Bill in legislature would ban toxins commonly found in cosmetics

Jan 12, 2023, 8:55 PM | Updated: Jan 13, 2023, 9:07 am


(Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for IMG)

(Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for IMG)

Did you know that your deodorant, nighttime face cream, mascara, and other cosmetics in your bathroom drawer may all contain chemicals linked to cancer?

We may prefer to ignore it, but many of the makeup, skin care, and personal hygiene products we use on a daily basis have potentially toxic ingredients.

In a new report from the Washington State Department of Ecology and Washington State Department of Health, researchers tested 50 common cosmetic products found at drugstores. Nearly half of the products tested contained enough formaldehyde “to cause allergic reactions” in some people, including all of the hair gels and creams that were tested. Other products contained lead; the report notes that the the CDC and WHO say that lead is not safe in any amount. Some of these products are marketed at children, such as hair de-tanglers.

A local biochemist says your cosmetics are toxic

A bill in the Washington State Legislature this session seeks to do something about that. House Bill 1047 would ban the sale, manufacture, and distribution of cosmetic products with certain toxic chemicals in Washington, beginning in 2025. So far, the bill has had one hearing in the House Committee on Environment and Energy.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sharlett Mena (D-Tacoma), said dangerous chemicals are commonly found in the beauty and skincare products we use on a regular basis.

“You shouldn’t have to be a toxicologist to shop for your cosmetics, and I think a lot of us go to the grocery store or to the makeup store or wherever we get our things, and assume that they’re safe to use because they’re on the shelf,” she said.

These toxic chemicals are linked to cancer, birth defects and reproductive problems, respiratory issues, and other serious health complications.

“When we find these toxics in certain cosmetics, it doesn’t mean that everybody is getting just a little bit of exposure. A lot of us go back to the same products and the same brands, so functionally, some of us are getting more exposure than others,” Mena said. “And we’re using them over and over again.”

Toxins are especially found in certain products marketed at women of color, such as hair relaxers and darker-tinted foundation.

Mena said that so far, she has gotten widespread support for the bill, including cautious support from some members of the business community.

While this would involve banning products that are still allowed to be sold in other states, at chain stores that have locations in Washington around the country, Mena is not worried about how the logistics of regulating those products just in our state would work.

“We already regulate lead in children’s products, for example. We already have a regulation around PFAS [per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances] in packaging and in firefighting foam,” Mena said. “So we’ve done this in the state of Washington.”

A similar bill was introduced last year in both chambers of the Legislature, but failed to pass. However, Mena is determined to keep pushing for a ban on toxic cosmetics.

“It’s important to me that we continue to fight for this, it’s important to me that we have products on the shelf that are safe to use … This is a bill that is really important to making sure that we’re not putting toxins on our face, that we’re not consuming products that are not good for us, and I think everyone has a stake in that,” Mena said.

To look up the toxicity of your own favorite beauty, skin care, and hygiene products, visit the Deep Skin Database.

Local News

FILE - The Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. returns on C...

The MyNorthwest staff with wire reports

Wash. Senators Murray, Cantwell pay tribute to Feinstein after her death

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a centrist Democrat who was elected to the Senate in 1992 has died. She was 90.

4 hours ago

helicopter grant county...

Frank Sumrall

Army helicopter strikes power lines, causes fire in Grant County

A helicopter crashed into power lines, causing a wildfire in Grant County, according to the CBS television station in Spokane.

5 hours ago

Image: A petition about raising the minimum wage in Tukwila...

Steve Coogan

Washington minimum wage to rise 3.4% in 2024

Washington's minimum wage will rise to $16.28 per hour in 2024, a 3.4% increase over 2023's $15.74 an hour, a state agency announced.

6 hours ago

pierce county elk...

Frank Sumrall

Video: Pierce County deputies use garden tools to save elk caught in swing

Their body camera video shows them approaching the bucking and panicked animal, then using borrowed garden tools to cut the swing's ropes.

7 hours ago

hammer man seattle...

Frank Sumrall

Hammer-swinging man injures 2 in attack at Seattle Sound Transit station

The victims of the attack were a man and a woman in their 60s. Both were taken to hospitals and are in stable condition, SPD reported.

9 hours ago

bear park cascades...

L.B. Gilbert

National Park Service considers plan to bring grizzly bears back to the Cascades

The National Park Service (NPS) is considering a plan to bring grizzly bears back to the North Cascades.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Bill in legislature would ban toxins commonly found in cosmetics