What are PFAs and why are they being banned in cosmetics?

New Zealand is the first country to ban PFAS in cosmetic products. They are setting an industry unprecedented goal of removing PFAs in all cosmetics by 2026, why does this matter?

 Understanding PFAs in Cosmetics

PFAs are forever chemicals commonly used in everyday personal care and beauty products from mascara to shaving cream, and household products like teflon pans. PFAs, a group of synthetic chemicals prized for their water- and grease-resistant properties have found their way into all of our favourite beauty essentials. These 12,000 chemicals have the name "forever" because they don't break down easily in your bodies or the environment. 

A study by CBC marketplace of PFAS in Canadian cosmetics found that: 

"99% of Canadians tested had some level of PFAS in our bodies. "

The Health Risks

Research has revealed a concerning array of health risks associated with PFAs exposure through cosmetics and personal care products. These chemicals have been linked to a range of adverse effects, including skin irritation, hormonal disruptions, and even cancer.

Skin Irritation: PFAs have the potential to cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and dermatitis, particularly in individuals with sensitive skin. Prolonged exposure to PFAs-laden cosmetics may exacerbate existing skin conditions and compromise the skin's natural barrier function.

Hormonal Disruptions: Like many endocrine-disrupting chemicals, certain PFAs compounds can interfere with hormone production and regulation in the body. This disruption may lead to hormonal imbalances, menstrual irregularities, and reproductive issues, posing a particular concern for individuals with pre-existing hormone-related conditions.

Cancer Risk: Perhaps most alarming is the emerging evidence linking PFAs exposure to an increased risk of cancer. Some PFAs compounds have been classified as potential carcinogens, raising concerns about their role in the development of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and other malignancies.

Minimizing Exposure

This is why ingredients and ingredient list standards are so important for personal care, beauty and cleaning brands. The regulations have not caught up with the research and that leaves product manufacturers having to lead the charge.

At Better Basics, we use the Environmental Working Group's ingredient standards to ensure the safety of everything we put out into the world.

Here are steps you can take to minimize your risk when it comes to cosmetics and personal care products:

  1. Read Labels: Take the time to read product labels and avoid cosmetics containing PFAs, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), or related ingredients, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

  2. Choose Natural Alternatives: Opt for cosmetics made with natural, plant-based ingredients and free from synthetic additives, including PFAs. Look for certifications from reputable organizations verifying the product's safety and purity.

  3. Simplify Your Routine: Embrace a minimalist approach to beauty and prioritize products with fewer ingredients and minimal chemical additives. Streamlining your skincare and makeup routine can help reduce overall exposure to harmful chemicals.

  4. Support Transparency and Regulation: Advocate for greater transparency in the cosmetics industry and support initiatives calling for stricter regulations on PFAs use in beauty products. By raising awareness and demanding accountability, consumers can drive positive change within the industry.

As consumers, we have the power to make informed choices, prioritize safety over convenience, and demand greater transparency and accountability from beauty brands. Let's embark on a journey towards safer, healthier beauty practices, free from the hidden dangers of PFAs.