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Cosmetics: too many ingredients of concern

BB creams, concealers, mascaras

Be cautious, especially during pregnancy

After previous reports on baby cosmetics and sunscreens for children, Wecf France today reveals the results of a survey of cosmetic products. We made an expert study of the labels 47 make-up products: 17 BB creams, 15 concealers and 15 mascaras, whose use has not decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many women use make-up products and cosmetics daily, including during or when envisaging pregnancy. They are part of everyday consumer products which may contribute to the exposure of pregnant women and the unborn child to chemicals of concern for human health, such as potential endocrine disruptors.

Our survey

In May 2021, we selected and purchased 47 cosmetic products, sold in supermarkets, perfume stores, drug stores, and organic shops. We screened the lists of ingredients on the packaging or available online, to list and identify ingredients of concern based on the most recent scientific literature: endocrine disruptors, nanoparticles, allergens, substances hazardous for ecosystems, etc.

Main results of our survey

  • We identified 37 substances of concern in the 47 products of our survey. Among these 37 substances, we classified 13 as of very high concern (RED), 9 as of high concern (ORANGE) and 15 as of moderate concern (YELLOW). 7 are endocrine disruptors of very high concern.
  • BB creams are the product category containing the highest number of substances of concern. Of the 17 BB creams of our survey, 10 contain at least 4 substances of very high concern. 3 BB creams contain a minimum of 12 substances of concern.
  • 3 of the 15 concealers of our survey contain at least 4 substances of very high concern.
  • Mascaras are the category with the lowest number of substances of concern: none contains more than 3 substances of very high concern.
  • 11 products of our survey contain no plastic ingredients, 8 of them are organic products.
  • Cosmetic products with organic labels are globally of better quality, with the main concerns being the use of titanium dioxide (in BB creams) and fragrance allergens of moderate concern.

Our main demands

  • Ban ingredients which we classified of very high concern from cosmetics, including the endocrine disruptors benzyl salicylate, BHT, butylphenyl methylpropional, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, ethylparaben, methylparaben and octocrylene.
  • Establish a pictogram, similar to the one displayed on alcohol, to warn pregnant women of the presence in cosmetics of ingredients suspected of being of concern for human health, in particular endocrine disruptors.
  • Strengthen research work of the French risk assessment agencies ANSM and ANSES to identify the risks linked to the use of cosmetics containing ingredients of concern, especially for pregnant women.
  • Ensure that all ingredients listed on cosmetic products are readable and understandable for consumers.

For more information download the report (in French): https://wecf-france.org/rapport-cosmetiques-trop-de-substances-problematiques/

Press contacts

Anja Härtwig, Communication Officer: +33 (0)4 50 83 48 10, anja.hartwig@wecf.org

Elisabeth Ruffinengo, Advocacy Manager: +33 (0)6 74 77 77 00, elisabeth.ruffinengo@wecf.org

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