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Cosmetics giant L’Oréal to eliminate PFASs in products

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French brand L'Oréal has become the latest of six large cosmetics companies to commit to eliminating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in its products, since December last year. 

Swedish NGO, the Nature Conservation Association, announced the move online, after receiving an email from the company in response to its social media campaign.

The campaign which launched in the summer of 2017, placed pressure on eight major cosmetics companies to phase out PFASs.

In its email to the NCA, L'Oréal says it has "decided not to use PFASs any more" as part of its global sustainability programme.

"The reformulation process is being completed and we are doing our utmost to remove PFAS topics. Please note that this applies to all L'Oréal-owned trademarks," the email continues.

Karin Lexén, general secretary of the NCA, called the company’s announcement an "amazing result".

PFASs are a group of substances that "concern researchers all over the world", many of whom think it necessary to get rid of them as quickly as possible, Ms Lexén said. Despite this, they are currently allowed in products that can be applied "directly on the skin", she added.

The NGO's website says its campaign focused on the chemicals because of concerns they do not biodegrade well and are suspected of carcinogenicity and affecting the liver, immune system and reproduction. 

Campaign victory

L'Oréal follows H&M, Lumene, the Body Shop, Isadora and Kicks in committing to phasing out PFASs.

Personal care retailer, the Body Shop, prohibited all PFAS ingredients in new product development from spring this year. Its international regulatory and scientific director, Jason Matthews, told Chemical Watch that the substances are present in "extremely small quantities" in three ranges and the products would be reformulated "in an ongoing process that will be complete by 2020".

The decision to phase them out was due to "a combination of a few factors, including the fact that some have been added to the EU candidate list and the environmental profile of these materials is below our standards," Mr Matthews added. 

Cosmetics ban

The NCA is calling for an EU ban on PFASs in cosmetics products, but encourages companies to phase them out voluntarily in the meantime. 

"L'Oréal, H&M, Lumene, the Body Shop, Isadora and Kicks have all chosen to take responsibility for people, animals and nature. Now, we hope their actions inspire more companies to follow," said Ms Lexén.

Currently, nine PFASs are on the REACH candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHCs), but only perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) is restricted, with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) set to be so by 2020.

Frida Hök, senior policy adviser at the NGO ChemSec, said: "We are pleased that many of these large cosmetics producers have committed to phasing out PFCs, and hope that this will be a wake-up call for the whole cosmetics industry."

ChemSec would like "the entire cosmetics industry to improve its chemicals management and aim for a complete out-phasing of all harmful chemicals in products to make sure that consumers can use cosmetics safely, both for themselves and the environment," she added.

Meanwhile, the NCA campaign is continuing to place pressure on cosmetics brands Clinique and BareMinerals, the remaining companies it has targeted but have yet to agree to the phase out.

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