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Everything to Know About the Cosmetic Fragrance Right to Know Act

For nearly 70 years synthetic fragrance has been included in skincare, cosmetics, hair care and other personal products, but these ingredients that are meant to add to the experience of a product are not always safe or even necessary. From the inception of OSEA, our founder Jenefer Palmer has actively advocated for greater transparency of ingredients in personal care products and through the years we’ve seen some changes regarding transparent formulas, ingredients, and supply chain operations, as well as cleaner formulas. The only grey area that has yet to be touched? Fragrance. At the time of this article, there are almost 4,000 fragrance ingredients that can be used in a product’s formula and listed solely as “fragrance.”

To break it down, studies in the United States have indicated that fragrance is included in 96% of shampoos, 98% of conditioners and 97% of hair styling products. Additionally, it’s included in 91% of antiperspirants, 95% of shaving products, 83% of moisturizers, 71% of lipsticks, 50% of foundations, and one-third of all blushes and eyeliners! The personal care category is loaded with fragrance and it’s almost impossible to avoid.

Recently Jenefer Palmer, on behalf of OSEA, has placed her support and efforts towards the presentation of SB-574, the Cosmetic Fragrance & Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act (CFFIRKA) to the California State Senate. At a 23-10 vote, CFFIRKA was passed on May 29, 2019 and with the signature of our California governor, this bill will go into effect on January 1, 2021. But what will that look like?

Use & Regulation of Synthetic Fragrances in Beauty Products

In a nutshell, this new bill will require companies to further disclose their use of fragrances or flavors in cosmetic products. CFFIRKA is an addition to an existing law–the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005. This law requires manufacturers of cosmetic products (subject to regulation by the FDA) to provide a complete list of its cosmetic products to the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control (DEODC) within the State Department of Public Health. The products submitted to the DEODC are those that are created with any chemical ingredient identified as causing cancer or reproductive toxicity. Following the submission of products, the California Safe Cosmetics Act then requires the State Department to develop a consumer-friendly public website that operates as a database of cosmetic product information collected from the regulated products.

At the start of the new year in 2021, the DEODC will be required to post an updated list of fragrance and flavor ingredients that are associated with health hazards on its existing database of cosmetic product information. The lists that are posted will be concurrent with the EU’s candidate list of substances of very high concern as well as the reproductive toxicants and carcinogens listed under California’s Proposition 65.

Composition of Synthetic Fragrances & the Affect On Our Bodies

The fragrances that are commonly found in beauty and personal care products can be composed of tens to hundreds of individual chemicals and these chemicals are currently only required by law to be listed on the product label by the generic term of “fragrance” (parfum), causing concern for the health of the consumer due to the lack of ingredient transparency. The International Fragrance Association has declared almost 4,000 fragrance ingredients and more than 3,000 flavor ingredients that may be classified as carcinogens, reproductive toxicants, asthmagens, neurotoxicants, allergens and other chemicals of concern. And, an analysis by Women’s Voices for the Earth shows that one-third of those chemicals have been flagged as potentially hazardous by scientists around the world.

Thankfully, with the momentum of this bill, we at OSEA hope transparent fragrance labeling can (and hopefully will!) become federally-mandated and personal care products can be allowed to do what they’re really created to do–care for our bodies without causing harm to our health.

To learn more about our commitment to clean, naturally-derived, transparent beauty click here.

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