Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Removal of Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Cosmetics Gains Momentum

Health + Wellness
Removal of Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Cosmetics Gains Momentum

Revlon, one of the oldest and best known names in beauty and personal care products, has announced it will remove some toxic chemicals from its products. They include some long-chain parabens and some formaldehyde-releasing chemicals.

As public awareness grows, pressure increases on beauty products companies to make their products safer.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The news comes against a background of heightened awareness of the dangers of chemicals used in a range of commonly used personal care products. Last month, for instance, Women's Voices for the Earth released a major study called Beauty and the Beast, revealing the health impacts on salon workers of long-term exposure to chemicals in the products they use. Last year, more than 100,000 people signed a petition by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), urging Revlon to make this move.

“We are pleased that Revlon has acted to remove these toxic ingredients,” said EWG executive director Heath White. “Long-chain parabens and formaldehyde-releasing chemicals have no place in everyday cosmetic products. We applaud Revlon for taking these important steps and hope that other companies will follow Revlon’s lead by reformulating their products to remove chemicals that have been linked to serious health problems. The move by Revlon confirms that companies can produce cosmetics products without these troubling ingredients. Today's news reflects real progress, but more reformulation and ongoing review of the science is needed.”

Long-chained parabens, used as preservatives in many cosmetics like lotions, creams and deodorants, have been in the news as endocrine disruptors with links to breast cancer and decreased fertility. Johnson & Johnson agreed to stop using them two years ago but they're still found in many cosmetics under names like propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

Formaldehyde is also a preservative, and formaldehyde releasers are designed to interact with water in products like shampoos, conditioners and bubble baths—including those designed for children—to unlock it. It's an allergen and a potential carcinogen, listed on labels as DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea and quaternium-15. Johnson & Johnson has also started phasing out these chemicals.

But while companies like Johnson & Johnson and Revlon have already responded to public pressure, many others have yet to do so. The Story of Stuff Project is leading a campaign to pressure L'Oreal to remove the potentially cancer-causing ingredients as well. Its Campaign for Safe Cosmetics points out that the company is using Ovarian Cancer Awareness to market its products, which include formaldehyde releasers and other ingredients that have links to cancer.

"The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has reviewed the scientific literature on carcinogens and found a whole host of carcinogens, formaldehyde releasers and contaminants in products sold under the L’Oreal, Maybelline and Garnier brands—all owned by L’Oreal," said the organization. "Many of the chemicals L’Oreal uses have already been banned in certain countries, but the company continues to ship toxic formulas to countries with weaker regulations. There is no reason for L’Oreal to put cancer-causing chemicals in its personal beauty products when safer alternatives exist."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

3 Common Chemicals That May Cause Breast Cancer

Toxic Chemicals in Salons Linked to Adverse Health Effects, Including Cancer

4 All-Natural Soaps Safe for Your Skin and the Planet

Air France airplanes parked at the Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport on March 24, 2020. SAMSON / AFP via Getty Images

France moved one step closer this weekend to banning short-haul flights in an attempt to fight the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A woman looks at a dead gray whale on the beach in the SF Bay area on May 23, 2019; a new spate of gray whales have been turning up dead near San Francisco. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Four gray whales have washed up dead near San Francisco within nine days, and at least one cause of death has been attributed to a ship strike.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A small tourist town has borne the brunt of a cyclone which swept across the West Australian coast. ABC News (Australia) / YouTube

Tropical Cyclone Seroja slammed into the Western Australian town of Kalbarri Sunday as a Category 3 storm before grinding a more-than 600-mile path across the country's Southwest.

Read More Show Less
A general view shows the remains of a dam along a river in Tapovan, India, on February 10, 2021, following a flash flood caused by a glacier break on February 7. Sajjad Hussain / AFP / Getty Images

By Rishika Pardikar

Search operations are still underway to find those declared missing following the Uttarakhand disaster on 7 February 2021.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous youth, organizers with the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipeline fights and climate activists march to the White House to protest against pipeline projects on April 1, 2021. Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Indigenous leaders and climate campaigners on Friday blasted President Joe Biden's refusal to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline during a court-ordered environmental review, which critics framed as a betrayal of his campaign promises to improve tribal relations and transition the country to clean energy.

Read More Show Less