States seek crackdown on toxic ingredients in cosmetics to close gaps in federal oversight


Washington has joined more than a dozen other states in seeking to crack down on toxic substances in cosmetics after a state-funded study there found lead, arsenic and formaldehyde in makeup, lotion and hair-straightening products made by CoverGirl and other brands.

The U.S. stalled out on chemical regulations after the 1970s, according to Bhavna Shamasunder, an urban and environmental policy associate professor at Occidental College. And that has left a regulatory void, as lax federal oversight allows potentially toxic products that would be banned in Europe to be sold in American stores.

“Lots of products on the market aren’t safe,” Shamasunder said. “That’s why states are helping create a solution — it’s a patchwork approach.”

The potential exposure to toxicants in cosmetics is especially worrisome for women of color, because studies show that Black women use more hair products than women of other racial groups and that Hispanic and Asian women have reported using more cosmetics in general than non-Hispanic Black and white women.

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The Lawton Constitution, 02-03-23