Avoid cosmetics and personal care with PFAS
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Avoid cosmetics and personal care with PFAS

Your face cream, hairspray, and eyeshadow might contain PFAS, which can be problematic for your health or the environment Learn which products to avoid.

Katja Ravn og Stine Müller · Foto: Katja Ravn · 12. oktober 2022
kosmetik med pfas

PFAS is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The substances are used to make your moisturizer, mascara, hairspray, eyeshadow etc., resistant to water and grease and to give it the right consistency.

PFAS are also known for their persistence and accumulation in the environment and your body. The substances can be problematic for your health by increasing the risk of:

  • Weakened immune system
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Fertility issues
  • Endocrine disruption

Why you should avoid using PFAS on the skin

PFAS are a large group of substances and we still do not know the potential health risk for all of these substances.

However, a lot of them are problematic for our health. What they all have in common is that they do not degrade but instead build up in nature. The production, use and disposal of PFAS-containing products can be harmful to the environment and contribute to our overall exposure to these substances.

A single substance in a single product is not harmful in itself. Therefore, a facial cream or eyeshadow with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances is not a problem on its own. But these types of products are in direct contact with your skin.

We recommend avoiding PFAS in cosmetics and personal care to reduce your overall exposure to unwanted chemicals. This exposure is also known as the cocktail effect.

91 cosmetics and personal care products contain PFAS

At The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals, we searched through our app Kemiluppen to find out which cosmetics and personal care products contain PFAS.

In the app, there are more than 13.000 different cosmetics and personal care products. Of these, 91 products contain PFAS. The products are from 30 different brands. All the brands also make personal care products without the unwanted substances.

Our investigation shows that PFAS are mostly found in day creams and eyeshadows. We have also found the substances in BB creams, facial masks, hairspray, eyelash serum, blush, foundations, serum, nail polish, and eyeliner.

Some of the listed products are a variation of the same product but in a different amount,size, SPF or color. We list each as singular products because they have different barcodes and because variations of the same product can be produced both with and without PFAS.

Which PFAS are labelled on cosmetics and personal care products

All ingredients have to be declared on cosmetics and personal care products – including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

PFAS found in cosmetics can have long, chemical names.

These are the substances we found:

  • Perfluorodecalin
  • Polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether
  • Polyperfluoroisopropyl ether
  • Tetradecyl aminobutyroylvalylaminobutyric urea trifluoroacetate
  • Ptfe
  • Acetyl trifluoromethylphenyl valylglycine
  • Perfluorooctyl triethoxysilane
  • Trifluoropropyldimethyl/trimethylsiloxysilicate
  • Methyl perfluoroisobutyl ether
  • Methyl perfluorobutyl ether
  • Ethyl perfluoroisobutyl ether
  • Perfluorononylethyl carboxydecyl peg-10 dimethicone
  • Trifluoroacetyl tripeptide-2
  • Dechloro dihydroxy difluoro ethylcloprostenolamide
  • Octafluoropentyl methacrylate
  • Polyperfluoroethoxymethoxy difluoroethyl peg phosphate
  • Perfluorononyl dimethicone

How to avoid PFAS in make-up and personal care products

In our app Kemiluppen, there are many cosmetics and personal care products without the unwanted fluorinated substances.

Kemiluppen helps you find out if your products contain unwanted chemicals. If your products contain PFAS, they always receive the lowest rating (C-rating) in the app.

A drop in the use of PFAS

Back in 2018, we conducted the same investigation. Here, we found 118 cosmetics and personal care products that contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Compared to our new investigation, this means a drop of 27 products containing PFAS.

Several brands appear to have stopped the use of PFAS in their products entirely. These are brands such as Origins, IsaDora, Clinique, The Body Shop, and M.A.C.

At the same time, we see that other brands still use the unwanted substances in their products.

Some companies promise to phase out PFAS

We asked the companies behind the products why they continue to use PFAS. Some companies state that they are currently phasing out these substances in their products.

Others insist on the necessity of using PFAS in the product. Not all have responded.

What the companies say

  • The consumer’s safety and safe use of our products are L’Oréals’ main priority. All our products have undergone safety evaluation prior to marketing.

    As a part of our strategy for sustainability, L’Oréal For the Future, we have decided to phase out PFAS. For the products in question, the process has begun and updated products without PFAS are delivered continuously. We confirm that our products on the market are safe and legal.”

    L’Oréal has formerly in 2018 stated that they are phasing out PFAS in their products in connection with a Swedish investigation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in cosmetics and personal care.

    Cosmetics giant L’Oréal to eliminate PFASs in products (chemicalwatch.com)

  • “Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of synthetic substances that can be used in a wide range of products including cosmetics to make products waterproof, easier to spread and with a long-lasting effect. As all the ingredients used in, they have been subjected to strict safety assessment to confirm they are safe for human health under cosmetic level of exposure. That is why, we have used some PFAS in a very limited number of makeup products. However, given the growing controversies, we have decided not to use them anymore as ingredients in our new product developments as a precautionary measure.”

  • NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 2:1 has been discontinued as of February 2022. Only NIODs FLAVANONE MUD (FM) contains PFAS and this product has been reformulated end of May 2022.

  • The product containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances is no longer in production. We are aware of the challenges with PFAS and the product has been taken out of the active assortment and is currently being phased out.

  • Sanzi Beauty informs that they will continue to use PFAS in their products as long as it is considered a safe and approved substance for cosmetic use in Europe according to applicable cosmetic legislation.

  • We have changed the INCI list on Miqura Bubble Mask so that Methyl perfluoroisobutyl ether will not appear in the list of ingredients in the next production,

  • HOB House Of Brands A/S informs that they are in dialogue with Ling New York regarding the possibility of removing PFAS in the products that contain it. Should this not be possible, HOB House Of Brands A/S will phase out the products from their assortment.

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