“Makeup” is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of dangerous aspects of life. And while you don’t need to banish makeup all together, there are some pretty concerning findings that are definitely worth knowing about.
This Is How It All Started
A study titled “Fluorinated Compounds in North American Cosmetics,” by the American Chemical Society, examined the chemicals in cosmetics sold in the United States and Canada.
The researchers screened a total of 231 different makeup and personal care products from brands like L’Oréal, Mac, Ulta, Cover Girl, Clinique, Nars, Smashbox, Estée Lauder, and many others. To screen, they used total fluorine, using “particle-induced gamma-ray emission spectroscopy,” which is basically an accurate scientific way of screening for fluorine.
The Findings Were Alarming
The study found that there were “high” levels of organic fluorine in more than half of the hundreds of products tested. These products included concealer, eyeliner, lip balm, blush, mascara, foundation, lipstick, nail polish and more. But the products didn’t all yield the same results, as the fluorine levels varied depending on which type of product was being screened.
The products with the highest rates of fluorine levels included “waterproof mascara (82% of brands tested), foundations (63%) and liquid lipstick (62%).”
But why do high levels of fluorine in makeup products even matter? Don’t worry, we got you.
It Turns Out, It’s Pretty Bad
Part of the reason for testing products for fluorine is because of PFAS. PFAS are Per- or Polyfluoroakyl substances, which are a group of man-made chemicals that are manufactured in countries around the world.
The problem with PFAS is that they don’t break down easily in the human body or in the environment. In other words, they stick around and can accumulate with continued use. And too much exposure to PFAS could actually lead to adverse health effects.
That is why high levels of fluorine, which is an indicator that PFAS are present, is so important to deduce.
PFAS Are A No-no
One of the primary potential health effects of PFAS, which ties into high levels of fluorine, is a compromised immune system. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, studies have shown that PFAS “may reduce antibody responses to vaccines” and “may reduce infectious disease resistance” in both animals and humans. But the immune system isn’t the only part of the human body that could be negatively impacted.
Evidence has suggested that PFAS could have effects including increased cholesterol levels, decreases in infant birth weights, increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer, changes in liver enzymes and increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.
There Are Better Options
These findings make it clear as to why it’s so important to know what is in our products, specifically our daily makeup products. For some, it’s an everyday part of life, and it lives directly on our face.
And while high levels of fluorine and PFAS are dangerous no matter where present, if they are in our liquid lipstick, foundation and waterproof mascara, it’s even more alarming. Who wants to ingest a harmful substance that’s sitting on your lips or accidentally poke your eye with something that can have negative effects? Not me!
But don’t worry, with a bit of research and effort, you can find products and brands that stay clear of these yuckies. Some of our favorites include BH cosmetics, Burt’s Bees, Mad Hippie and Pacifica. Many of them can be found on Ulta’s Clean Ingredients list.