California Safe Cosmetics Act

The State of California has regulatory authority over cosmetic products within its borders, pursuant to the Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law (the “Sherman Law”), CA Health & Safety Code, Div. 104, Part 105. The Sherman Law gives the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Food and Drug Branch, authority over cosmetics, as well as drugs, foods, dietary supplements and medical devices. The Sherman Law mirrors the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), which gives the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) its authority over cosmetics.  Like the FFDCA, the Sherman Law authorizes CDPH to detain adulterated and misbranded cosmetic products and provides for penalty actions and seizure in California courts.

Along with the Sherman Law, California regulates cosmetics via the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 (“the Act”), enforced by CDPH’s “California Safe Cosmetics Program” (CSCP). The Act requires cosmetic companies, with $1,000,000 or more in sales, to provide a list of products that contain ingredients designated by the State of California as “known” or “suspected” to “cause” cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive toxicity. The objective of the program is to allow the State to track the use of dangerous chemicals and to refer cosmetic companies to other State agencies and departments for possible restriction or prosecution.

The CSCP maintains a list of cosmetic ingredients that trigger the registration requirement. CSCP uses the safety findings of state and federal government agencies to compile the list of ingredients purported to cause cancer or reproductive harm. It includes chemicals listed under California’s Proposition 65 as well as those listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Evaluation of Risk to Human Reproduction (CERHR) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The Act does not provide CSCP with any enforcement powers. Rather, the Act grants CSCP the power to audit, investigate, study and track cosmetic companies. If CSCP believes a cosmetic company or product is endangering the public or has failed to register, then CSCP must report the firm to the California Department of Public Health and/or the State Attorney General for further enforcement action. assists domestic and international cosmetic companies with all aspects of compliance with both federal and California regulation for cosmetic products.