Toxic PFAS chemicals in beauty products - lipstick, foundation, mascara
June 30th, 2021

Toxic PFAS chemicals in beauty products - lipstick, foundation, mascara

Says a new study in a story on the Sydney Morning Herald this week. 

And I spoke to 2GB on the Deborah Knight show about it. Radio snippet attached below. 

100% of the products tested for PFAS in a new study, contained PFAS. That's horrifying, especially when you see the brands associated - all big selling, big name brands that you'll find in every woman's makeup bag. 

The study found PFAS mostly in waterproof/long lasting/wear resistant cosmetics. It tested brands like Revlon, Maybelline, L’Oreal, MAC, Rimmel, Covergirl, Clinique, Estee Lauder, Nars, Smashbox, Urban Decay and Sephora.

PFAS are 'forever chemicals' and do not breakdown in the environment or in our bodies. The courts found good evidence they can cause potentially health hazards including high cholesterol, kidney and testicular cancer. It's been linked to thyroid issues, hormone issues, low infant birth weights, fertility issues and effects on the immune system.

Says the SMH article: 

"When 29 products underwent targeted testing, all of them contained at least four PFAS chemicals of concern.

The researchers screened 231 cosmetic products for high levels of fluorine - considered a marker for the probable presence of PFAS.

82 per cent of waterproof mascaras contained high levels of fluorine, along with 63 per cent of foundations and 62 per cent of liquid lipsticks."

The concerning bit is that the 29 products that were actually tested for PFAS, ALL OF THEM contained four PFAS chemicals.

Worse - they are not found on the ingredient list of ANY of these products. 

PFAS is the chemical found in the fire retardant that there is a giant class action lawsuit currently being held against the State Government. Families are suing the government for spraying it on their land in military drills, and there is a subsequent high cancer rate in those communities because of it. This has not been settled yet. 

It's also in some plastics, some carpets, nonstick cooking pans (Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products. 

Lots of these things we can't avoid - like carpet. There's no ingredient list on carpet. 

But there are things we can avoid, like long lasting makeup, that can reduce your PFAS load. Here is PFAS-free fragrance and skincare for example. 

I was at the airport once, notoriously not a place for natural/clean beauty, looking for a foundation that wasn't too toxic to take with me on a trip. The sales assistant showed me a long lasting NARS foundation and boasted that it lasted 24 hours. 

"24 hours!" I said in horror, "But what is making it stick to your skin like that? That can't be good for you!" 

She just looked at me, baffled at this question and even the thought process, and walked away. 

We should be asking these questions. What is making it stick to your skin? Because, isn't that ... paint? Toxic paint that you want to paste on your face so it stays for 24 hours?

Basic common sense should warn you that anything lasting on your skin for 24 hours is loaded with chemicals we don't want near our bodies, let alone on our biggest organ. 

Long lasting lipstick? We all eat approx 2kg of lipstick every year if we wear it every day. 

Long lasting mascara? Gets in your tear ducts. 

Long lasting fragrances? You know the ones you can smell about 10 metres before a person enters the room and then it's on your skin the next morning still, from the day before? Women spray it on their lymph nodes. Shop clean perfume here 

The SMH spoke to Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith from the National Toxics Network who said, 

“The combined exposure is quite frightening,” she said. “People are putting PFAS-contaminated foundation on their skin every day. These are really serious exposure routes.”

Do I need to point out that these cosmetics were the only ones that were tested? What if they tested all the other stuff women put on their skin? 


Listen to my interview with Deborah Knight on 2GB here.

Please ignore my children's whispers! It's school holidays + lockdown so I actually think they did pretty well to keep this quiet ha! 

This file is audio only, the video is just of 2GB's screen.


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