Governor Signs Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2020

SB 312 Empowers Consumers and Protects Californians From Toxic Chemical Exposure

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today signed important legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that will require companies selling beauty or personal care products in California to report the presence of hazardous fragrance and flavor ingredients in their products to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Safe Cosmetics Program.  This information would then be publicly available through CDPH’s Safe Cosmetics Database.

Currently, no state or federal law requires the disclosure of fragrance or flavor ingredients to consumers or regulatory agencies. This loophole allows dozens of chemicals to hide under the word ‘fragrance’ on beauty and personal care product labels with minimal regulatory oversight of the safety of those ingredients. Sadly, the same loophole exists for flavorants, which are appearing increasingly in flavored lip gloss and other products marketed to children.

“It is unacceptable that we actually know more about the fragrance ingredients in products that we use to clean our homes than those that we put on our faces or bodies,” Senator Leyva said. “Once implemented, this law will help to ensure that consumers in California know what ingredients are in the beauty and personal care products they bring home to their families and use on their bodies. By empowering consumers and helping them make educated decisions about which products to use with their kids and families, SB 312 is clearly a step in the right direction to strengthen consumer knowledge and improve public health.  I thank Governor Newsom for standing with scores of non-profits, health groups and businesses in the strong belief that no toxic ingredients should be kept secret.”

Thousands of synthetic chemicals are used to create the fragrances and flavors that comprise the beauty and personal care products individuals and families use every day.  Some of these chemicals have been linked to negative health impacts ranging from allergic reactions to reproductive harm and increased risk of breast cancer.  Many of these chemicals contain endocrine disrupting compounds that can make individuals at risk for diseases that increase their susceptibility to COVID-19, such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory disease.

Notably, in a 2016 national survey, over 34% of respondents in the U.S. reported health problems—such as migraine headaches and respiratory difficulties—in response to fragranced products exposure.  According to recent data compiled by Women’s Voices for the Earth, approximately a third of fragrance ingredients currently used have been flagged as being potentially toxic by scientists around the world.

Taking effect on January 1, 2021, SB 312 was sponsored jointly by Black Women for Wellness, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and Women’s Voices for the Earth.  The measure was also supported by over one hundred consumer, environmental justice, health, labor, environmental and other organizations and companies, including American Academy of Pediatrics - California, American Lung Association – California, California Coalition for Clean Air, California Labor Federation, Clorox Company, Consumer Federation of California, Los Angeles Black Worker Center, Sierra Club California, The Women’s Foundation of California and Unilever United States.