Scientists tested makeup across the US and Canada for harmful chemicals – they found that over 75% of products tested contained PFAS, which are “forever chemicals”
When it comes to the “forever chemicals”, microplastics come to mind. Those tiny pieces floating along every major waterway in the world, transferring into the human body and building up over the years. These pieces of plastic are near indestructible naturally, though scientists are constantly creating methods to permanently remove or destroy them – they continue to pollute human bodies and the environment.
Looking at something millions of people use on a daily basis, scientists have now found several makeup products which contain Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – also known as “forever chemicals”. They are so indestructible that scientists generally cannot guess an exact date for when they would naturally degrade, or they break into other PFAS that cannot degrade.
What happens when these chemicals enter the human body?
Some PFAS have been associated with a wide range of serious health harms, from cancer to obesity to more severe COVID-19 outcomes. They are in the drinking water of millions. Scientists have only ever tested a handful of PFAS for toxicity, meaning that the majority have impacts on the human body that we can’t currently predict.
Graham Peaslee, senior author of the study and professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame, said: “Lipstick wearers may inadvertently eat several pounds of lipstick in their lifetimes.
“But unlike food, chemicals in lipstick and other makeup and personal care products are almost entirely unregulated in the U.S. and Canada. As a result, millions of people are unknowingly wearing PFAS and other harmful chemicals on their faces and bodies daily.”
Over three-quarters with high fluorine
The research team examined 231 cosmetic products purchased in the US and Canada for fluorine. They found that over three-quarters of waterproof mascara, nearly two-thirds of foundations and liquid lipsticks, and more than half of eye and lip products had high fluorine concentrations.
Most of these products were described as “wear-resistant” or “long-lasting.”
“PFAS are not necessary for makeup. Given their large potential for harm, I believe they should not be used in any personal care products,” said Arlene Blum, a co-author and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute.
“It’s past time to get the entire class of PFAS out of cosmetics and keep these harmful chemicals out of our bodies.”
Strangely, none of these products had PFAS listed on their labels – which means that it is nearly impossible for people to avoid buying potentially harmful makeup just by reading the label.