In the beauty world, it’s all about having the right formula and the right image. The greater San Fernando Valley region is home to a broad mix of beauty companies that could find their formulas in jeopardy if the state’s Department of Toxic Substances and Chemicals calls into question the use of roughly 1,200 chemicals in a bid to make manufacturers more environmentally sensitive. The state agency is hearing testimony through Oct. 11 from cosmetics company owners and industry advocates about proposed substance regulations that some say could be a death knell for many manufacturing businesses in the state. Concerns about chemicals used in the beauty industry is not new. From worries over Brazilian blowouts that require unsafe levels of formaldehyde to lead in lipstick, consumers have been inundated with media watchdog reports sending warnings that may not be apparent on the face of the product. And environmental leaders have been calling for change to improve manufacturing processes for many years. While the state department has yet to decide on which product categories it will regulate, many involved are certain that officials have clearly signaled beauty products will be selected for review — potentially delivering a blow to the region’s many small- and mid-sized fragrance, nail care, hair care and cosmetics manufacturers. Beauty companies say the additional oversight is unnecessary, as the Food and Drug Administration already regulates their industry. Pharmaceuticals and food — the other two manufacturing sectors regulated by the federal agency — already have been exempted from the new regulations. “We’re concerned that it might be an overreach by the DTSC,” said Eric Schwartz, COO of North Hollywood-based nail care company OPI. “Cosmetics are very regulated already. This will result in a lot of expense and effort.” Bridget Sharpe, government affairs and industry relations coordinator for the Professional Beauty Association, said the industry is hoping that the DTSC will consider the larger economic impact that more regulation could have on the state’s economy. “There would be a lot of reasons for manufacturers to up and leave California,” she said. “We’d essentially like this to be looked at differently.” Officials in charge of finding a way to balance scientific research and manufacturers’ economic concerns, however, say the lengthy hearings and multiple drafts of the regulations are designed to find a middle ground. “This process is not quick. It’s deliberative by design,” said Debbie Raphael, director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). Currently, the board is in an open comment period, allowing manufacturers, environmental groups and labor organizations weigh in on the current draft of regulations. Once that comment period ends Oct. 11, Raphael and her staff will review it, draft a new version and then call for open comment on the revised version. She anticipates that the revised draft will be ready for perusal and comment by early 2013. “That’s part of the problem for the manufacturing world right now,” Raphael acknowledged. “We can’t tell them what products will be affected yet.” Determining the List The substances on the DTSC’S list of Chemicals of Concern have been culled from existing lists of such chemicals worldwide and across the country’s existing regulatory boards. Doug Schoon, a regulatory consultant, former chief scientist for Creative Nail Design and co-chair of the Nail Manufacturers Council, said the DTSC’s method of choosing the chemicals to be regulated is troubling. He worries that the DTSC only will consider a substance, not the amount of the substance. This could be costly for companies and result in very little good for consumers, he said. Raphael, however, insisted that won’t be the case. “We are going to set a threshold,” Raphael said. If it’s below the threshold, manufacturers would not have to conduct an alternatives analysis, or present regulators with options for replacing the chemical. She also noted that products must be paired with a substance, and that the law does not provide blanket substance-banning. Designed to encourage manufacturers to be more environmentally-friendly, the so-called green chemistry initiative was signed into law in 2009 and has been winding through a lengthy proposal and review process ever since. Some Valley-based companies have expressed their commitment to environmentally-friendly products long before the law was even proposed. Van Nuys-based Orly International and its brand SpaRitual have already changed the chemistry of many of their products to be greener. The brand, which launched in 2004, has made a commitment to vegan and environmentally-sound products. “There are so many health-related issues surrounding nail care products and their ingredients, and I didn’t see anyone else talking about going green in the nail industry,” brand founder Shel Pink told The San Fernando Valley Business Journal last year. Cost and Benefits The regulations will force manufacturers to take another look at the chemical makeup of their products. Once the DTSC begins evaluating products, affected companies will need to notify the agency there are ways to change the product, or if they should take regulatory action. This action can include fines, suggested retooling or a slow phase-out of the product. “This law is going to require manufacturers to ask a question: ‘Is this ingredient safe and is this ingredient necessary?’” Raphael said. According to Schwartz, most beauty products already go through this process and the new process could lead to costly redundancies. Each OPI product takes about 12 months, give or take, from conception to shelf. In that time, products are researched and evaluated by a team of researchers and scientists. “There’s always innovation going on here,” Schwartz said. “We’ve reformulated some of our products in recent years.” All sides readily admit that cost analysis is difficult to do when the regulations are not yet finalized. The DTSC has done little analysis of the economic impact of the regulations, and manufacturers say that’s part of their concern as they commit to being part of the process. “It puts the real burden on the companies,” said Sharpe, who visited Sacramento for a hearing on the regulations last month. Schwartz agrees, noting that implications could go far beyond the state. “What California does is important because other states tend to follow,” she said.