Q&A: Attorney provides guide to 'complex landscape' of US cosmetic and personal care regulatory landscape

For cosmetics and personal care product manufacturers and suppliers, navigating the intricate web of state regulations is a crucial concern for manufacturers and suppliers alike. With a number of states enacting prohibitions or restrictions on various ingredients, the regulatory landscape has evolved into a complex patchwork, demanding careful attention and strategic planning.

From bans on formaldehyde releasers to restrictions on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), each state’s approach presents unique challenges and considerations. We interviewed Surya Kundu, Associate at Steptoe LLP for her insights into the current state legislative activity surrounding cosmetic and personal care product regulations, examining the significance of key laws and their implications for industry players nationwide.

CDU: Can you provide a brief overview of the current major state legislative activity regarding cosmetic and personal care product regulations?

Surya Kundu (SK)​: At least 20 states have placed prohibitions or restrictions on cosmetics ingredients.  The significant variations across these laws have created a patchwork of laws for brands/manufacturers to navigate – including in terms of what substances are being targeted (e.g.,​ color additives; metals like cadmium, lead, and mercury; phthalates; parabens; per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS);  formaldehydes; and more). 

The variations also layer on top of each other – there are often major differences even among laws that address the same substance/category of substance, there are often huge variations.  One common variation involves prohibitions on children’s products vs. across all cosmetics products. 

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