SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Assembly Member Ash Kalra introduced legislation that requires manufacturers to disclose ingredients on the labels of professional cosmetics. Unlike retail cosmetics, manufacturers of professional cosmetics are not legally required to list ingredients on the labels. If the bill passes, it will be the first such law to take effect in the nation.
“Professional cosmetics are not only used once or twice a day on a regular consumer; salon workers spend 8-10 hours a day exposed to unlabeled chemicals,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “By seeking parity with retail cosmetics, we treat transparency and awareness as a standard. Labeling professional cosmetics will allow consumers to make informed personal health decisions, workers to mitigate their risks, and researchers to investigate the nature of products we currently cannot test.”
Co-sponsored by California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Black Women for Wellness, Women’s Voices for the Earth, and Californians for a Healthy & Green Economy (CHANGE), AB 1575 will help ensure that salon professionals can better protect their health by having access to important information on chemical exposure in products they use while at work.
“Nail and hair professionals — a population dominated by women—are at higher risk of miscarriages, gestational diabetes, and asthma, among other serious harm. It is inexcusable that ingredients linked to such dire health consequences as well as acute reactions are not required to be listed on the labels of professional salon products,“ said Catherine Porter, Policy Director, California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative. “But that will change with the passage of AB 1575.”
Studies routinely show that women working in nail salons report acute health concerns such as headaches, dizziness, rashes and breathing difficulties, as well as miscarriages, birth defects, cancers and respiratory illnesses.  Hairdressers are at increased risk of miscarriage and babies born with cleft palates. In addition, studies found that hairdressers have greater risks of dying from three neurological conditions including, Alzheimer’s disease, pre-senile dementia, and motor neuron disease, compared to workers in other jobs.
“Salon professionals repeatedly handle solvents, polishes, straighteners and other beauty care products containing known carcinogens like formaldehyde, or toluene, a neurological and a developmental toxicant,” said Jamie McConnell, Director of Programs and Policy at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “Salon workers need and deserve full transparency in the products they use while on-the-job in order to choose products that are safer for themselves and for their clients.”
Exposures faced by Black hair care professionals and consumers are of special concern: Black women generally experience more aggressive forms of cancer and have higher mortality rates from the disease, as well as less access to treatment.  They also bear the burden of higher rates of miscarriage, low birth weights, and infant deaths compared to non-Hispanic white women.
“Our community is already paying the burden in health disparities for an unregulated beauty industry. AB 1575 is the first and important step for both salon workers and the larger health community to know exactly what’s in these products. Salon workers deserve the option to keep themselves and their clients away from harmful chemicals,” said Jan Robinson Flint, Executive Director of Black Women for Wellness.
Hair stylists, nail manicurists, and other salon and barber professionals have a right to know what they are being exposed to in the workplace, and they should be able to trust that labeling laws will be followed and enforced. In addition to requiring full transparency of chemical ingredients in professional cosmetics, the bill also improves enforcement of labeling laws by increasing penalties for violating labeling requirements and will give state agencies the ability to recoup the cost when pursuing actions against violators.
“In the past, we’ve seen manufacturers of nail and hair products misrepresent their product as free of certain dangerous chemicals, in some cases with little or no consequences,” said Kathryn Alcantar.  “This undermines salon professionals’ confidence that government has their back when it comes to responding to clear violations of the law that could impact their health, and demonstrates that there’s not enough deterrence in the first place.”
In California, the beauty salon industry represents a significant small business sector. According to the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology (BBC), there are almost 53,000 businesses licensed by the BBC to provide nail, hair, barber, and other beauty services. There are over 129,000 licensed manicurists in the state; over 312,000 cosmetologists are licensed to provide nail and hair services.
“As a hairstylist, my health has been irreparably damaged from being exposed to formaldehyde in a hair smoothing treatment without my knowledge. Having the ingredients listed — and listed accurately — on professional salon products is essential for salon professionals like me to protect ourselves and protect our clients,” said Jennifer Arce.
Catherine Porter, (510) 393-2358, catherineAporter@gmail.com
Beth Conway, (406) 543-3747, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nourbese Flint, (323) 420-6934, email@example.com
California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative is a coalition of community-based organizations, researchers, advocates, academic institutions, and nail salon community members whose mission is to improve the health, safety and rights of the nail and beauty care workforce and to achieve a healthier, more sustainable, and just industry. Learn more at cahealthynailsalons.org.
Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national environmental health organization that works to amplify women’s voices to eliminate toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. Learn more at womensvoices.org
Black Women for Wellness is a women-centered, multi-generational organization focused on building healthy communities and committed to the health and wellness of Black women and girls through education, empowerment and advocacy. Learn more at bwwla.org
Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) is a statewide coalition of 37 environmental health and environmental justice groups, health organizations, labor advocates, community-based groups, parent organizations, faith groups, and others who are concerned with the impacts of toxic chemicals on human health and the environment. Learn more at http://www.changecalifornia.org/
 Quach, Thu, et al, Adverse birth outcomes and maternal complications in licensed cosmetologists and manicurists in California, Int Arch Occup Environ Health (December 2014)
 Beauty and it’s Beast, https://www.womensvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Beauty-and-Its-Beast.pdf
 “Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program Turning Cancer Data into Discovery.” Cancer of the Breast. National Cancer Institute, 2012.