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Suspected endocrine disrupters found in these foundations

Nearly half of the liquid foundations in our test contain suspected endocrine disrupters or particularly environmentally damaging substances.

Katja Laukkonen Ravn og Claus Jørgensen · Foto: Getty Images · 14. februar 2024
kosmetik

Foundation is used to cover the skin, even out imperfections, and add color. You can get foundation with or without UV-filters, in liquid form, as cream, or as pressed and loose powder.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has tested 28 liquid foundations from the Danish market for the presence of unwanted chemicals.

Our test shows that half of the foundations contain suspected endocrine disrupters or particularly environmentally damaging substances.

forskellige hudtoner foundation

Different colors, same content

A specific foundation may come in many different colors. But the content is often the same. If a foundation receives an A-rating in the test, it will receive the same rating in all the other available colors.

Approximately half of the foundations contain suspected endocrine disrupters

In the test, we find suspected endocrine disrupters in 11 out of 28 foundations. Suspected endocrine disrupters can potentially affect hormones in the body in various ways. These substances are suspected of contributing to, for example, decreased sperm quality, malformed genitals in newborns, early puberty, and increased risk of certain types of cancer.

The suspected endocrine disrupters found in the test of 28 foundations are:

  • BHT
  • Benzyl salicylate (UV-filter)
  • Cyclopentasiloxane
  • Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (UV-filter)
  • Ethylhexyl salicylate (UV-filter)
  • Homosalate (UV-filter)
  • Methylparaben (UV-filter)
  • Octocrylate (UV-filter)

Six suspected endocrine disrupters in the test are UV-filters. Therefore, consider whether SPF is necessary in your foundation. Instead, you can use a sunscreen that receives an A-rating.

Overall exposure to unwanted chemicals

The individual substance is not dangerous in itself. It is the overall exposure to chemicals in products, food, air, etc., that can affect health. What we call the cocktail effect of unwanted chemicals in everyday life.

Cosmetics are just one type of product out of many that you apply to your skin and that remain on the skin for many hours during the day.

Therefore, it's a good idea to reduce unwanted chemicals in these products.

Perfume and environmentally damaging substances in foundations

In the test, 17 foundations contain environmentally damaging substances, and eight foundations contain perfume or plant extracts that can cause lifelong allergies.

Please note that the products in the test may contain one or more unwanted substances.

If you want to find an environmentally friendly choice, it's a good idea to look for the Nordic Swan Ecolabel.

However, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel allows perfume. If you are looking for allergy-friendly alternatives, look for Asthma Allergy Nordic or Allergy Certified.

These foundations are without unwanted chemicals

If you are looking for a foundation that does not contain unwanted chemicals, we have found 10 good choices in the test.

They all receive the best rating, grade A.

They are:

  • bareMinerals Original pure serum liquid foundation light neutral 2.5 mineral SPF 20
  • Essence - Stay all day 16h long-lasting foundation 08 soft vanilla
  • Gosh Hydramatt foundation 004N light SPF 15
  • Laura Mercier Real flawless weightless perfecting foundation 2N2 linen
  • Matas Foundation medium
  • Miild - Natural foundation 02 light plus wind
  • Nilens Jord - Second Skin serum foundation no. 548 classic
  • NYX - Can't stop won't stop full coverage foundation natural
  • Sandstone - Skincare foundation 103 light medium
  • Sephora - Best skin ever glow foundation 17.5N

Titanium dioxide in foundations

The white pigment titanium dioxide is present in many cosmetics and personal care products. This also applies to all 28 foundations in the test.

Titanium dioxide was banned in food in 2022 because it is suspected of being able to damage human DNA when ingested.

We do not assess titanium dioxide in liquid foundations because you do not ingest the substance when using foundation.

There has been focus on whether the substance is also problematic when inhaled. The EU Court of Justice ruled in 2022 that titanium dioxide should no longer be classified as carcinogenic when inhaled.

The EU's scientific committee SCCS is currently assessing whether the substance is safe to use in cosmetics.

Therefore, the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals does not currently assess titanium dioxide in foundation, regardless of whether it is liquid, solid, or powder.

Foundations do not contain PFAS

None of the 28 foundations in the test contain PFAS. In our app Kemiluppen, we have previously found a few foundations with PFAS.

This suggests that the substances is being phased out in most cosmetic products.

About the test

  • At the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals, we have purchased liquid foundations in stores and online to cover the market broadly.

    We have selected foundations that are often scanned in our Chemical Scanner app.

    The test is a declaration test, and therefore, we have not analyzed the amounts of substances in each individual product.

    We have contacted the manufacturers to ensure that they are not discontinued products.

  • We have tested 28 foundations for unwanted chemicals. The result is:

    • 10 receive the best chemical rating, A-rating
    • 6 receive a medium chemical rating, B-rating
    • 12 receive a poor chemical rating, C-rating

    The problematic substances found in the test are all legal. There will generally be no risk in using the products.

    However, the problematic substances have undesirable properties. For example, they are suspected of being able to affect the hormonal system or cause lifelong allergies. Therefore, it's a good idea to minimize your exposure to these substances.

    Suspected endocrine disrupters

    11 products in the test contain suspected endocrine disrupters.

    • Cyclopentasiloxane (found in 8 foundations). The substance is suspected of being endocrine-disrupting and environmentally damaging.
    • Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (found in 5 foundations). The substance is a UV filter suspected of being endocrine-disrupting and can be problematic for the environment.
    • BHT (found in 5 foundations). The substance is suspected of being endocrine-disrupting.
    • Methylparaben (found in 1 foundation). The substance is suspected of being endocrine-disrupting.
    • Benzyl salicylate (found in 1 foundation). The substance is a UV filter and fragrance ingredient suspected of being endocrine-disrupting and causing allergies.
    • Ethylhexyl salicylate (found in 1 foundation). The substance is a UV filter suspected of being endocrine-disrupting.
    • Homosalate (found in 1 foundation). The substance is a UV filter suspected of being endocrine-disrupting.
    • Octocrylene (found in 1 foundation). The substance is a UV filter suspected of being endocrine-disrupting.

    Environmentally damaging substances and perfume

    17 foundations contain environmentally damaging substances.

    8 foundations contain perfume or plant extracts.

    • Cyclohexasiloxane (found in 2 foundations) is problematic for the environment.
    • Disodium edta (found in 8 foundations) can be problematic for the environment.
    • Tetrasodium EDTA (found in 1 foundation) can be problematic for the environment.
    • Zinc oxide/Zinc oxide (nano) (found in 5 foundations). The substance can be problematic in the environment.
    • Perfume (found in 7 foundations) can cause allergies.
    • Linalool (found in 3 foundations). The substance is a fragrance ingredient that can cause allergies.
    • Limonene (found in 3 foundations). The substance is a fragrance ingredient that can cause allergies and can be problematic for the environment.
    • Alpha-isomethyl ionone (found in 2 foundations). The substance is a fragrance ingredient that can cause allergies.
    • Hexyl cinnamal (found in 2 foundations). The substance is a fragrance ingredient that can cause allergies.
    • Geraniol (found in 1 foundation). The substance is a fragrance ingredient that can cause allergies.
    • Citronellol (found in 1 foundation). The substance is a fragrance ingredient that can cause allergies.
    • Citral (found in 1 foundation) is a fragrance ingredient that can cause allergies.
    • Rosa gallica flower extract (found in 1 foundation) is a plant extract that can cause allergies.
    • Citrus limon peel oil (found in 1 foundation) is a plant extract that can cause allergies.
    • Citrus aurantium bergamia fruit oil (found in 1 foundation) is a plant extract that can cause allergies.
    • Citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel oil (found in 1 foundation) is a plant extract that can cause allergies.
    • Pinus sylvestris leaf oil (found in 1 foundation) is a plant extract that can cause allergies.
    • Eucalyptus globulus leaf oil (found in 1 foundation) is a plant extract that can cause allergies.