How & When to Report Under the California Safe Cosmetics Act

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How & When to Report Under the California Safe Cosmetics Act

In the early days of this blog, we covered the basics of cosmetics labeling, and FDA approval of cosmetics. Federal laws are a  major component to accurate labeling and disclosure of ingredients, but many individual states have their own regulations as well. Ten years ago, in 2005, the California Safe Cosmetics Act came into law, and its requirements are governed and coordinated the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). When selling in California, your cosmetics business could be required to report to the CDPH all ingredients within your products that, according to CDPH, are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.  CDPH is sensitive to the difficulties that small businesses may face with compliance and so read the conditions below to find out if you are required to report.

A company is required to report if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. It has a total of at least $1 million or more in aggregate sales of cosmetic products both within and outside of California (including international), according to previous year tax records;
  2.  It is the manufacturer, packer, and/or distributor named on the label of a product, which contains an ingredient known or suspected by an authoritative scientific body cited in the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 (the Act) to cause cancer or reproductive harm (visit this database to learn which ingredients are on the harmful list)
  3. That product meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s definition of a cosmetic; and
  4. That product was sold in California on or after January 1, 2007.

For the third condition, the definition of cosmetics is “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)].

Protection of Trade Secrets After Reporting 

After you report the ingredients within your products, this information will be posted publicly online in a searchable database, where anyone can search by product or brand name, or product type.

When doing this detailed reporting of the ingredients, some companies may fear the public disclosure of their trade secret ingredients. Unfortunately trade secret information is not exempt from reporting to the California Department of Public Health, however you can request protection of the information from the public eye if the following rules are followed:

1. The person submitting it:

  •  Requests exemption from public disclosure by selecting the Trade Secret option in the appropriate field of the report, and
  •  Provides the proper written supportive documentation demonstrating that the information is a trade secret, or is commercial or financial information that is privileged or confidential, and

2. The California Department of Public Health accepts the information in confidence upon review of the submitted factual data.

As with all blog posts from Law On The Runway, this just general information, not legal advice. Please contact an attorney to discuss your particular needs for reporting and labeling. To reach out to Law On The Runway with questions about this blog article, please email