SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In a major victory for worker and consumer right to know, Governor Brown signed into law a ground-breaking bill that requires manufacturers to disclose ingredients on the labels of professional cosmetics.
Until now, only retail cosmetics manufacturers were required to list product ingredients. This same transparency was not required of professional cosmetics, even if products contained ingredients linked to severe health concerns like cancer, birth defects, and respiratory issues. Introduced by Assembly Member Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), AB 2775 is the first such law to take effect in the nation.
“San Jose is home to the largest population of Vietnamese people in a city outside of Vietnam. Nail salon workers are predominantly Vietnamese Americans, often women of immigrant background with limited access to information on workplace safety. Salon workers do not apply professional cosmetics only once or twice daily, but rather spend 8-10 hours a day exposed to unlabeled chemicals, which are increasingly associated with reports of headaches, dizziness, rashes, and even linked to miscarriages, birth defects, cancers, and respiratory illnesses,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “AB 2775 provides salon workers with more ingredient transparency and increased awareness so they can make informed decisions about their use or avoidance of chemicals that may pose a workplace risk.”
Co-sponsored by California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Black Women for Wellness, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, and Women’s Voices for the Earth, and endorsed by small and large cosmetic companies like Beautycounter and Unilever, AB 2775 generated near unanimous bipartisan support in both the California Assembly and Senate and had no recorded opposition.
“We applaud Assemblymember Ash Kalra for his leadership in authoring this bill, and the state legislature and Governor Brown for passing and signing this first-in-the nation law to improve right-to-know for salon professionals. For years, the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and local Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Programs (HNSRP) across the state have provided opportunities for nail salon workers and owners to learn about and prevent exposures to toxic chemicals in professional cosmetics. AB 2775 helps ensure that salon professionals can access product information that is critical to their health, and helps the Collaborative and HNSRPs in our work of making sure nail salon professionals’ right-to-know is in full effect,” said Catherine Porter, Policy Director with the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative.
Studies routinely show that women working in nail salons report acute health concerns such as rashes, headaches, dizziness, and breathing difficulties, as well as miscarriages, birth defects and cancers.  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 neurological conditions including, Alzheimer’s disease and pre-senile dementia, compared to workers in other jobs. 
“Passing AB 2775 isn’t simply about listing ingredients – it’s about eliminating the barriers that prevent workers from having the information they need to avoid concerning ingredients including carcinogens like formaldehyde, or toluene, a neurological and developmental toxicant – many of which salon professionals repeatedly handle on a daily basis,” said Jamie McConnell, Director of Programs and Policy at Women’s Voices for the Earth. “Now, for the first time ever, salon workers will have the transparency they need in order to choose products that are safer for themselves and 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.
“AB 2775 is a huge step for the community of hair stylists that we work with and all salon workers throughout California–the ability for workers to be able to turn over the products that they are using on clients every day and accessing a list of ingredients is imperative for them to be able to make informed decisions about their health and prevent exposure to toxic chemicals found in salon products,” said Marissa Chan, Environmental Research and Policy Manager at Black Women for Wellness. “Black Women for Wellness’ Healthy Hair Initiative is focused on providing Black hair stylists the tools and knowledge to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals in their workplace.”
“When it comes to breast cancer and other serious health problems, there’s no justification for denying salon workers access to information about the chemicals they are exposed to on the job all day, every day,” said Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. “AB 2775 will provide a new high bar for salon product ingredient disclosure – and worker right to know – for California and serve as the de-facto law of the land,” Nudelman said. “That’s a win-win for salon worker health and for the health and safety of their customers too.”
“As a company dedicated to safety and transparency, Beautycounter knows that ingredient disclosure empowers consumers to choose safer alternatives,” said Gregg Renfrew, Founder and CEO of Beautycounter. “We celebrate the passage of the California safer salon bill and applaud Governor Brown for recognizing the importance of protecting workers and consumers.”
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.
“This bill is of importance because it helps us, as salon workers, stay healthy, and helps ensure our clients’ safety and health by having full knowledge of the possible toxins and chemicals in the products we use,” said Safiyyah Edley, hair salon owner and natural hair stylist in California.
Last month, professional nail and salon workers from across California gathered in Sacramento to lobby for AB 2775, safer products, ingredient disclosure and their right to know.
“I am thrilled that AB 2775 was signed by Governor Brown. I have experienced watery eyes, skin rashes, trouble breathing, and headaches while at work in a nail salon. I’m glad that ingredients will be listed on professional cosmetic labels. This will help me and other salon professionals work in ways that are healthier,” said Sarah Underhill, a nail salon worker from Paramount, CA. “AB 2775 will also help me provide ingredient information to customers who are more and more asking to know what are in the products being used at nail and hair salons.”
Salon workers are available for interview.
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. www.womensvoices.org
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. www.cahealthynailsalons.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. www.bwwla.org
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (formerly Breast Cancer Fund) is a science-based advocacy organization that works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. www.bcpp.org
– Jamie McConnell, 406-543-3747 | firstname.lastname@example.org
– Catherine Porter, 510-393-2358 | email@example.com
– Janet Nudelman, 415-321-2902 | firstname.lastname@example.org
– Marissa Chan, 323-290-5955 | email@example.com
– Meaghan Curcio, firstname.lastname@example.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.