Happy Lipstick Day! What does that mean? We have no idea, but it’s a good excuse to talk about harmful toxins and chemicals in the cosmetics industry! The beauty world is no stranger to dangerous chemicals. In Victorian England and across the globe, makeup used to contain heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and mercury. Heavy metal containing powders and capsules were used to achieve paler skin, but they also caused irreparable damage to a person’s skin and body over time, sometimes causing death! While its easy to look back and recognize that beating your mug with powdered lead wasn’t a great idea, we can also stop and take a look at what harmful chemicals are hiding in our beauty products today.
Long-Lasting. Like… TOO Long-Lasting
Parts of the beauty industry have made great strides towards cruelty free and vegan products, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Makeup users and aspiring beauty gurus should keep an eye out for key words like “long-lasting” and “waterproof”. These are a good indicator that your makeup may contain Per/Polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
These man-made chemicals are commonly found in consumer goods like waterproof furniture, carpets, fire-fighting foams, and food packaging. Because PFAS are water-resistant, many beauty companies use them in their products in order to advertise their makeup as “waterproof”. But that longevity doesn’t stop at the lip-line. PFAS are commonly called “forever chemicals” because they can remain inside the body for years, and in the environment, they can last for centuries! During production and use PFAS can break down into other acids and chemicals and contaminate soil and water
. Even more concerning for makeup users is their prevalence- a recent study of cosmetics sold in the United States and Canada revealed that around 52% of cosmetics contained PFAS.
Companies rarely list that their cosmetics include PFAS, despite the known health effects of ingesting them. These compounds have been linked to high cholesterol, thyroid diseases, low birth weights in infants, decreased vaccine response in children, and increased risk of high blood pressure and cancer.
PFAS are found in many consumer products, but cosmetics are particularly concerning because they come into close contact with our eyes, mouth, and skin. So, it may be time to take a second look at your beauty routine and do some research into what chemicals may be hiding in your daily glow-up.
Follow this link for more information on PFAS and Canada’s Chemical Management Plan.