Why not put ingredients on professional cosmetics?

By Policy Director Catherine Porter

Why not put ingredients on professional cosmetics?

Currently, the law requires that ingredients have to be listed on the labels of the cosmetics and personal care products you and I buy at drugstores and department stores – products like make-up, body lotions, shampoo, nail polish, hair perm kits and dyes.

But you know what? The same doesn’t go for products that are used only in a professional setting – products like hair dyes and straighteners, nail polish, and artificial nail products used in hair and nail salons and barbershops.  This gets in the way of salon owners and beauty professionals -- who are mostly women, and many are immigrants or women of color -- having all the facts they need to make decisions that affect their health and our health as consumers.

In California, Assembly Bill 1575 (Kalra) sponsored by the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, along with Black Women for Wellness, the CHANGE coalition, and Women’s Voices for the Earth would change that by requiring that manufacturers list ingredients on the labels of professional cosmetics and on their websites so that information on what’s in the products salon professionals use every day at work is readily available.

Industry representatives argue that OSHA-mandated Safety Data Sheets provide enough information and that this predominately women workforce doesn’t need (or deserve?) any more. Well, we disagree!  Safety Data Sheets do not list any chemicals that are emerging health hazards, are complicated to understand, and are very difficult to obtain. At the same time, many of the chemicals in salon products like toluene, triphenyl phosphate, and formaldehyde are linked to serious health problems including cancer, asthma, and reproductive harm.

Salon professionals recently testified at hearings in Sacramento in support of the bill. Salonworker Kathy Pham voiced the benefits of ingredient labeling, among them, “If I got sick from a product I could just take the labeled bottle with me and show the doctor; that could help the doctor figure out what’s wrong with me.” Jennifer Arce, hair stylist and salon owner, pointed out the problems of product labels without ingredients, “[It] gives stylists the false security that dangerous products are safe.”
We say why not err on the side of more--not less—information? Why not put the ingredients on professional cosmetic labels?!
You can support AB 1575 as an individual or on behalf of your organization by emailing a letter to the author Assemblymember Ash Kalra. Tell him why more—not less—information is a good thing forworkers in the salon business.

 Here’s the address: 
Assemblymember Ash Kalra
State Capitol, Rm 5160
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249

Attn: Liza Chu

You can download a letter template here.

We also have an online petition where we're collecting individual supporters here