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Skinome's skincare is obviously PFAS-free - but why do others use them?

In Skinome's products you will of course not find PFAS, we have never used these harmful substances as the risks have been known for a long time. However, the question is why they are still present in so many products on the market? We think it is positive that these questions are now starting to be asked more often and no one has probably missed the recent media review of PFAS. Most recently in a series of articles in Aftonbladet where they write about a study where researchers examined the cosmetics industry and found the substance in a number of popular products when testing 43 common beauty products sold in Sweden. The question is, how can companies with the knowledge we have today, continue to use it in their products? 

What are PFAS?

PFASs are a large group of highly fluorinated, synthetically produced substances that are very difficult to degrade and therefore persistent in the environment. Sometimes referred to as perpetual chemicals, PFASs are found in a range of products and have become the subject of intense debate in Sweden. These include the contamination of drinking water via fire protection foam in Blekinge, but also the recent discovery of contamination in fishing waters in Boden. And most recently in the investigation of the cosmetics crash highlighted by Aftonbladet.

Why are PFAS used?

PFAS is mainly used for its water-repellent properties, in products such as fire protection foam, water-repellent clothing and frying pans. Unfortunately, PFASs are also used in cosmetic products to make them last longer and improve their water resistance. They can be found in waterproof mascara and foundation but also in a range of other products such as face creams, face masks, eyeliners, hair oil, shaving cream, powders, serums and eye shadows. But the benefits come with a hidden cost.

Endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic effects

PFAS can disrupt the body's hormonal system, leading to various health problems. Exposure to PFAS has been shown to affect thyroid function, our reproduction and increase the risk of certain cancers. These effects can occur even at low levels of exposure, which is common in the daily use of cosmetics.

Environmental impact

The environmental impact of PFAS is equally serious. These persistent chemicals do not degrade naturally and therefore accumulate in water, soil and living organisms. This accumulation can have extensive effects on ecosystems and affect human health through contaminated water and food for a very long time. In December 2023, after a long legal process, the municipal water company in Ronneby was finally sentenced by the Supreme Court to pay damages to victims who had ingested PFAS via the municipality's drinking water. A relevant question is what responsibility the companies that currently and previously used PFAS in their products have, despite the knowledge that these substances are hazardous to health?

Already knew in the 60s...

As early as the 1960s, animal studies conducted by 3M and DuPont showed that PFAS chemicals posed health risks. By the mid-1970s, 3M knew that PFASs were accumulating in the blood of Americans. In the 1980s, both 3M and DuPont linked PFAS to cancer and found elevated cancer levels among their own workers.

...but only now was the decision taken to 'phase out' PFAS in cosmetics

Now, the European industry body Cosmetics Europe (CE), and also the Swedish KoHF (Cosmetics and Hygiene Companies' trade association), have recommended that manufacturers of cosmetic products by from and 31 December 2025 should phase out and not market cosmetic products that contain intentionally added PFAS (1).But they are still present in many products. In the review conducted by Aftonbladet in November 2023, it is written that most products with PFAS in the table of contents were found by the researchers in products from the French L'Oréal group. In an email response to the newspaper, they state that they stopped using PFAS in 2020, but despite this, many products are still on sale where PFAS substances are listed among the ingredients. The company also states that it is difficult to say how long these products will remain on the market for sale. This is another aspect and downside of the traditional skin care industry that we want to highlight where large volumes can be produced as the shelf life of the products is often several years. 

Read the article in Aftonbladet here

We obviously do not use PFAS and never have.

How can substances that were already seen to cause adverse health effects in humans in the 1960s still be legal to use? These are questions we are grappling with. We also have customers who contact us and ask if we have PFAS in our products. The simple answer is no, we would never use these substances in our formulations. The big question is, with the knowledge we have today, how can we wait until the end of 2025 to regulate PFAS use and continue to use it in our products? 

This seems not only outdated, but downright irresponsible.

What do you think?