I know many of us love our beauty products, but there is an ugly hidden truth about them: concealed, highly persistent, potentially harmful PFAS. PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, include thousands of chemicals that are so sturdy they can linger in the body and environment for years … and even centuries. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, decreased fertility, and hormone disruption.
We are now learning that we also need to be aware of long-lasting or waterproof products. Among over 200 tested beauty products, about half contained high levels of fluorine — a marker for potentially harmful PFAS compounds. Unfortunately for us, our beloved products like waterproof mascaras, liquid lipsticks and foundations were especially likely to contain lots of fluorine.
If you are concerned about PFAS chemicals in the makeup you wear, I recommend avoiding using any waterproof or long-lasting products. Although it is desirable to have beauty products that last a little longer, I hope most consumers would rather opt for safe products that might not have the same staying power. Shopping for organic or “natural” makeup products doesn’t always help either. Many brands use the word “natural” on their labels and in their marketing, yet they contain ingredients that are considered controversial in terms of safety for humans and the environment. I encourage my patients to shop brands that are transparent about their supply chain and take efforts to ensure that ingredients and packaging are being sourced from safe, reliable sources.
Like they say, “Shop smarter, not harder!”