PFAS Chemicals Were Found in Many Cosmetic Products

PFAS Chemicals Were Found in Many Cosmetic Products

A recent study found that a large amount of makeup products contains PFAS chemicals. PFAS chemicals are chemicals that are links of carbon and fluorine atoms that do not break down in the environment. These chemicals are so prolific that they can be found in 97 percent of Americans. Of the 231 makeup products bought in the United States and Canada, 52 percent had PFAS chemicals. The products with the highest concentrations of these chemicals include foundation (63 percent), waterproof mascara (82 percent), and long-lasting lipstick (63 percent). Eighty-eight of the products did not disclose any ingredients that would explain the PFAS chemicals found in their products. This is a requirement of the US Food and Drug Administration, so these companies are breaking the law.

In the study, there were 13 types of PFAS chemicals found in 600 different products from 80 brands.  A bill was announced in the US Senate by Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal and in the House by Democrat Rep. Debbie Dingell banning the presence of PFAS in cosmetics. The aim is to ensure that products being applied to the skin and hair are safe and free of dangerous chemicals. PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are manmade substances that can bioaccumulate in the body leading to cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, decreased fertility, and hormone disruption.  The bill would allow the FDA to create a rule banning the intentional addition of PFAS chemicals.

The study used fluorine (not organic fluorine added to drinking water) to find if PFAS chemicals were in 231 products. The foundation, waterproof mascara, and liquid lipsticks studied all had large levels of fluorine. Twenty-nine of the products with the highest levels were analyzed by an outside lab and 53 different PFAS chemicals were found. Each product had at least four concerning PFAS chemicals. Twenty-eight of the 29 products studied did not have the chemicals listed on their labels. Since many of the products do not disclose the chemicals on their packaging, people trying to avoid these chemicals are unknowingly applying them to their bodies. A lot of the products are also applied near the eyes and lips, which are areas more likely to absorb the chemicals. Women also lick their lips, so they could be ingesting their lipstick along with multiple PFAS chemicals.

Scientists don’t know the half-life (time for 50 percent of a chemical to disappear) of PFAS chemicals. They are found in multiple products including nonstick cookware, infection resistant surgical gowns and drapes, cell phones, semi-conductors, commercial aircraft, and low emissions vehicles. They can also be found in carpeting, clothing, furniture, and food packaging that is resistant to stains, water, and grease (like fast food wrappers). Two PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanoic sulfonate (PFOS) were both removed from consumer products, but new versions of these chemicals have been created. There were 4700 different types of these products in 2018 but this number is continuing to increase since more of these products are being made. They are made with 4- or 6- carbon chains, but they are still dangerous. Instead of testing products before entering the market, new products are made and released without knowing their safety.

PFAS have been in cosmetics for a while to condition, smooth, or make the skin shiny or to help the product’s consistency and texture. The FDA requires all ingredients to be on the label in descending order, but some PFAS chemicals could be there because the raw ingredients contained impurities or intentionally added PFAS broke down and formed other types of PFAS.

If you want to avoid these chemicals, you need to avoid waterproof and long-lasting cosmetics products. The highest levels of PFAS were in products labeled “wear resistant” or “long-lasting.” You also can’t be safe by buying natural or organic products. Many products labeled as natural have been found to contain controversial ingredients that are usually considered to be unsafe for humans and the environment. You instead need to buy from companies that are transparent about their supply chain that also ensure ingredients are sourced safely and reliably. You can also check the Skin Deep Database from the Environmental Working Group, but this tool does not contain every product.

Do you have cancer after an exposure to a toxic substance? You could be entitled to compensation. Contact us by calling 412-471-3980 or by filling out our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


Sandee LaMotte, “Makeup may contain potentially toxic chemicals called PFAS, study finds” CNN (June 15, 2021). [Link]

Related Posts

Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2023

Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2023 Today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the membrane that surrounds different organs including the lungs, abdomen, heart, and testicles. The main…
Read more

Mesothelioma: Unraveling Common Misconceptions…

Mesothelioma: Unraveling Common Misconceptions and Myths Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that results from asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, misconceptions and myths surrounding this complex disease are prevalent, leading to…
Read more

22 years On, People…

22 years On, People are Still Struggling from the Aftermath of 9/11 This past Tuesday was the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the Word Trade Center. Many people…
Read more


No fee unless you receive compensation!

"*" indicates required fields


Next Steps: Sync an Email Add-On

To get the most out of your form, we suggest that you sync this form with an email add-on. To learn more about your email add-on options, visit the following page ( Important: Delete this tip before you publish the form.