The makeup brands still using cancer-linked ‘forever chemicals’

Makeup products sold in the UK by major brands has been found to contain “forever chemicals”.

The pollutants, known as PFAS, have been linked to serious health conditions, including cancer. Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances are resistant to oil and water, making them highly valuable to the makeup industry due to their long-lasting wear time. They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down.

PFAS are also found in nonstick frying pans, water-repellent sports gear, stain-resistant rugs and countless other consumer products made since the 1940s.

High levels of exposure have been linked with birth defects, thyroid issues, cancer and other health issues. The chemicals can easily migrate into the air, dust, food, soil and water.

A new report has revealed that major cosmetic companies including Urban Decay, Revolution and Inglot are selling makeup containing PFAS.

While these products are not illegal in the UK, Germany, along with four other European countries, are expected to propose an EU-wide ban today (13 January). Many brands are now PFAS-free because of growing evidence of the environmental and health impacts of these compounds. Yet, the BBC recently obtained a list of products being sold in the UK still containing these chemicals, in a Freedom of Information request to the Environment Agency.

A Revolution Beauty spokesperson said: “We comply fully with all EU and UK cosmetics regulations and we have already begun the process of phasing out poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances from our products.”

The Independent has also contacted L’Oréal, which owns Urban Decay, for comment. Inglot has also been contacted for a statement.

There are growing concerns among politicians and scientists about how PFAS can build up in the environment. Given that the substances contain strong chemical bonds and cannot be broken down naturally, the toxic pollutants can begin to accumulate in rivers and soil as people wash makeup off into water supplies.

PFAS have been found in popular eyeshadow products such as Urban Decay’s ‘NAKED 2’ eyeshadow palette (iStock)
PFAS have been found in popular eyeshadow products such as Urban Decay’s ‘NAKED 2’ eyeshadow palette (iStock)

The majority of products found to be containing the chemicals were eyeshadow products. Urban Decay’s popular NAKED palettes (two and three), Inglot’s Evening Kiss eyeshadow palette and Revolution Power Shadow Pallette 90’s Baby were all included in a list of examples of products containing PFAS, obtained by the BBC.

The Health and Safety Executive is due to publish an assessment for the government of the health risks of PFAS.

L’Oréal told the BBC that, in 2018, it made the decision to phase out all PFAS. A spokesperson said: “The phase out and substitution plans are well underway and we have already removed PFASs from the majority of our products.”