Quantcast

Removal of Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Cosmetics Gains Momentum

Health + Wellness

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

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

American bison roaming Badlands National park, South Dakota. Prisma / Dukas / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Clay Bolt

On Oct. 11 people around the world celebrated the release of four plains bison onto a snow-covered butte in Badlands National Park, South Dakota.

Read More Show Less
An EPA sponsored cleanup of the toxic Gowanus Canal dredges a section of the canal of industrial debris on Oct. 28, 2016 in Brooklyn. The Gowanus is a Superfund site from years of industrial waste spilling into the water, and it is listed in GAO's report to be at risk from a climate disaster. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis / Getty Images

The climate crisis has put at least 945 designated toxic waste sites at severe risk of disaster from escalating wildfires, floods, rising seas and other climate-related disasters, according to a new study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Rob Greenfield pictured above is driven by the concept of "living a life where [he] can wake up and feel good about [his] life." Rob Greenfield / Facebook

For one year Rob Greenfield grew and foraged all of his own food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, no going to a bar for a drink, not even medicines from the pharmacy.

Read More Show Less
Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store. VioletaStoimenova / E+ / Getty Images

Apple has removed all 181 vaping-related apps from its App Store, the company announced on Friday. The removal of the apps comes after thousands of people across the country have developed lung illnesses from vaping and 42 people have died.

Read More Show Less