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In 2004, State Assemblyperson Judy Chu (D–Monterey Park, CA) fired the first bullets at the cosmetics industry by introducing a bill in California to ban certain ingredients from all cosmetics sold in the state.1 Known as Assembly Bill (AB) 2025, it followed the European Union’s (EU) direction to ban cosmetics containing anything on Annex II of the EU Cosmetic Directive. This bill was changed five times before it was passed by the State Senate; however, it was subsequently defeated by a single vote in the Assembly.
Supporters of this legislation learned from its defeat, yet industry manufacturers continued the self-destructive practice of promoting their own products as being safe and their competitors’ as containing “unsafe” ingredients. Terms like sulfate-free, alcohol-free, preservative-free and other free-from marketing claims exploded on the marketplace. Behavior such as this plays right into hands of industry opponents who are pushing for the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) required approval of all cosmetics and cosmetic ingredients prior to their being allowed on the market—ultimately removing all cosmetics from the market.
The second battle again took place in California as others picked up Chu’s fight. State Senator Carole Migden (D–San Francisco) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 484, The Safe Cosmetic Act of 2005. Having learned from previous failure, the authors of SB 484 concentrated on the alleged lack of federal regulations for cosmetics and the claim that the industry uses chemicals “known or suspected of” causing cancer and reproductive harm. Further, Migden claimed that safer raw material alternatives are available, and that SB 484 would not cost more than US $100,000 per year to implement and enforce. This legislation was backed and directed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the justification for it was filled with distortions, half-truths and misleading language (see SB 484 Claims vs. Facts). The bill was passed and signed into law by the governor in 2005,2 which was a major victory for anti-cosmetic forces. The state was then prompted to draw up a list of chemicals whose use in cosmetics or in fragrances used therein would trigger notification to the state. In this author’s view, the state drew up the list not by using common sense but by taking the easy way and listing all the chemicals on California’s Proposition 65 list and anything on any other cited bodies’ list, regardless of whether or not they are used in cosmetics. When the state finally published its list in 2008,3 it included 783 chemicals, of which less than 20 have ever been used in cosmetics. The only chemicals on the list that are important to the cosmetics industry are titanium dioxide, Black 2, cocamide DEA, and retinol and its esters.
At an Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors (ICMAD) conference in 2010, a speaker from the California government admitted that the state had been authorized to spend close to US $2 million dollars for the SB 484 program since it was passed—and in this author’s opinion, with nothing to show for it except wasted money and several electronic registrations. Now, the state is bankrupt. Shame on the press for not revealing this crime against the citizens of California.
How did industry respond to SB 484? The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) issued its Consumer Commitment Code consisting of six parts: