Synthetic chemical substance PFAS could soon be banned for cosmetics in New Zealand

A synthetic chemical substance that's commonly found in makeup and cosmetics could soon be banned in New Zealand. 

The Environmental Protection Authority is seeking public consultation on its proposal to phase out what's known as 'PFAS' in all cosmetics by 2025. 

Lipstick, mascara and foundation are among many everyday products people use on their skin that contain an ominous-sounding ingredient - known as 'forever chemicals'. 

"Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, that's a very long name but it's actually a very large group of chemicals that have been synthesized, it means that they do not exist in nature," University of Auckland School of Environment's Associate Professor Melanie Kah told Newshub.

"They've been synthesized since the 1950s and incorporated in all sorts of products, including some that we use in our everyday life." 

Called 'PFAS' for short they're used in makeup to make cosmetics smooth and longer-lasting. 

But Prof Kah told Newshub there is an issue with it.

"They just do not naturally degrade, so once they are in the environment they just keep cycling around, a little bit like plastics," Prof Kah said.

University of Canterbury's director of environmental science Professor Sally Gaw said: "There is growing concern around their potential impacts on human health, as well as the fact that we can find them anywhere in the environment."

The Environmental Protection Authority is proposing changes to our cosmetics standards.. which would see PFAS banned - phased out in cosmetics by 2025. 

It's in line with the European Union which has proposed a ban of the chemicals not just in beauty products but in everything.

"At Cosmetics New Zealand we are really supportive of aligning with the European regulations because they are the tightest with regard to cosmetic safety," Cosmetics New Zealand's general manager Martha Van Arts told Newshub.

As well as phasing out PFAS the proposed changes would also see our list of banned and restricted cosmetic ingredients broadened.

"Our list was already quite extensive, but this will make the list longer. I had a read through the list on Friday and was quite surprised to see some of the chemicals that we needed to have regulation for, including some quite toxic pharmaceuticals that I certainly wouldn't expect to be in a cosmetic product," Professor Gaw said.

A big change ahead for an industry that will need to give make-up users a better understanding of what they're putting on their skin.