Toxic, 'forever' chemicals found in over half of makeup sold - study

makeup with toxic chemicals
L'Oréal, Mac, Cover Girl, Clinique and Nars were all brands tested in the new research. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Your makeup kit could potentially be a hotbed of toxic chemicals, a new study in North America has found. 

High levels of toxic PFAS substances were found in over half of makeup products purchased in the US and Canada, according to the research, which was published in Environmental Science & Technology this week.

PFAS, or 'per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances', are a class of about 9000 chemicals used to make products like food packaging, clothing, kitchenware and heavy-duty cleaners, according to The Guardian.  

They are sometimes dubbed "forever chemicals" because they do not naturally break down and have been found to accumulate in humans.

While the study was conducted out of the US and Canada, many of the brands tested are sold in New Zealand, including L'Oréal, Mac, Cover Girl, and Clinique. 

Not all brands contained PFAS, and the study authors said they didn't want to "pick on" any brands in particular by listing which were found to contain the toxic substances. 

Some of the highest levels of PFAS were found in foundations (63 percent), waterproof mascara (82 percent) and long-lasting lipstick (62 percent), according to the study. 

The study also found some 88 percent of the tested products failed to disclose on their labels any ingredients that would explain those chemical markers. 

"It's a little shocking and hopefully a wake-up call for the cosmetics industry in terms of how widespread the PFAS contamination is across types of makeup products," David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group told CNN. 

"The most common PFAS is polytetrafluoroethylene, the ingredient most commonly known as Teflon, or the coating on pans. 

"But all in all, we have identified 13 different PFAS chemicals in more than 600 products from 80 brands."