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Waterproof Mascara Lawsuits Reveal PFAS in Cosmetics

by | Feb 8, 2024 | Product liability

In the pursuit of the perfect lash, millions of people trust their favorite waterproof mascara to deliver smudge-proof, long-lasting results. But an untold secret could be locked up in your mascara tube: a dangerous mix of PFAS, man-made chemicals found in a variety of cosmetic products. These chemicals are more than just harmful; they could be a silent danger, posing life-threatening risks to your health.

The glossy attraction of voluminous lashes has mesmerized many women, but at what cost? Imagine a scenario where the product giving your lashes a glamorous lift is actually harming your body from within. Let’s take a deep look at what’s really inside those mascara tube and waterproof mascara lawsuits and what these lawsuits are focusing on.

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Waterproof Mascara Chemical Composition

Waterproof mascaras are difficult to remove with water. Carbon black, or iron oxide, is the basic ingredient that is used to darken the lashes.

Waterproof mascara promises to offer significant protection against moisture and to keep your eyelashes dry, yet many popular brands use severe chemicals that might harm your eyelashes.

Is waterproof mascara safe? No, it’s not! Dimethicone, which is often used in waterproof mascara formulations, can have a drying effect on your lashes. Because this chemical is water-resistant, it tends to be drying, which can cause your eyelashes to dry out. Over time, this drying effect could potentially lead to your lashes becoming brittle and falling out.

Researchers found that many waterproof mascaras contain a hazardous chemical known as PFAS. Here you can see the difference between waterproof vs regular mascara.

waterproof-mascara-lawsuits-picture-showing-regular-mascara-vs-waterproof

Before we go further, it’s crucial to know what PFAS actually are.

PFAS and Side Effects

PFAS, also known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is a big family of man-made chemicals that have been around since the ’40s. You can find them in a variety of products we use every day because they are really good at repelling oil and water. PFAS includes nonstick pots and pans, some cosmetics, and even the packaging your takeout comes in.

These PFAS chemicals have a special bond between carbon and fluorine, which means they don’t break down easily. This is why they’ve got the nickname ‘forever chemicals’. Unfortunately, the chemicals used in non-stick pans don’t merely stay on the cookware; they have the potential to persist in our bodies and the environment for a long time.

Does waterproof mascara cause cancer? The PFAS in waterproof mascara can cause cancer in human beings.

Because they are used in so many things, they’ve become a part of our surroundings and have even entered our systems. Over time, if we get too much of them in our system, it can lead to some serious health issues like

  • Liver damage
  • Thyroid disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Cancer

It’s important to be careful with these chemicals since they can also affect weight and fertility. So, it’s important to keep an eye on the products we use every day.

Study Highlights PFAS Concerns in Cosmetics

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame led a study, and they shared their findings in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

This study looked at the presence of fluorine, which is linked to dangerous chemicals called PFAS, in 231 different cosmetic products, including foundations, mascaras, and lipsticks. Using the PIGE technique, they categorized the products into three groups based on their fluorine content: low, medium, and high.

The study found a significant amount of products contained high levels of fluorine, with foundations leading the pack. The higher fluorine levels were generally found in products advertised as “long-lasting” or “wear-resistant”—terms highlighting the advantages brought by PFAS, which are used to give cosmetics water and oil-resistant properties.

Then they picked some products for more detailed analysis using other advanced techniques and found detectable levels of at least four different PFAS in every product analyzed. Most of the detected chemicals were short-chain PFAS, a newer variant considered less harmful than the older, long-chain versions. However, long-chain versions were still found in many products, indicating they were still in use or contaminating new products.

Interestingly, very few of the products actually listed any PFAS in their ingredient lists, making it hard for consumers to avoid them. They also found that several cosmetic ingredients, like some kinds of methicone and dimethicone, are available in fluorinated versions, which could be a hidden source of PFAS in cosmetics.

Overall, the study suggests that many cosmetics contain concerning levels of PFAS. The presence of these chemicals is not clearly indicated on labels, preventing consumers from making informed choices to avoid them. The study advocates for stronger regulations and more transparent labeling to reduce the potential dangers of using PFAS in waterproof mascaras and other beauty products.

waterproof-mascara-lawsuits-picture-showing-categories-of-cosmetics-and-pfas-levels

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Waterproof Mascara Lawsuits against L’Oréal

In February 2022, a waterproof mascara class action lawsuit was filed against L’Oréal USA Inc. by Sumner Davenport in a California federal court. The lawsuit alleges that L’Oréal knowingly did not inform consumers that some of its popular waterproof mascara products contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Davenport claims L’Oréal presented these mascaras as safe and of high quality. She says that had she known about the toxic ingredients, she wouldn’t have purchased the product, especially at its current price. To support her claims, Davenport had several of L’Oréal’s mascara products tested in an independent lab. The results revealed the presence of PFAS in multiple products, including L’Oréal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara and several Maybelline mascaras.

The lawsuit is aimed at representing Californians who bought these mascara products from 2018 onwards. Davenport’s demands include a relabeling of the products, damages, and a jury trial. The lawsuit alleges violations of both state and federal consumer protection laws and was dismissed without prejudice shortly after being filed.

In another instance, Rebecca Vega, a plaintiff, filed a lawsuit in New Jersey on April 8, 2022, against L’Oreal. She alleges that L’Oreal did not disclose that multiple of its mascara products contained these toxic substances.

The lawsuit against waterproof mascara specifically highlights a 2021 Notre Dame study that tested 231 cosmetic products and found 29 of them contained long-chain PFAS without mentioning it. Following this study, third-party testing revealed PFAS in several L’Oreal waterproof mascara products.

Vega criticizes L’Oreal for claiming to prioritize product safety and quality while allegedly using harmful synthetic chemicals. The lawsuit accuses L’Oreal of prioritizing profits over the safety of its customers. It also hints at the possibility of other L’Oreal cosmetics, like lipsticks, containing PFAS, but this hasn’t been proven yet.

The PFAS in mascara lawsuit seeks class action status to represent Vega and others affected. The claims include fraud, unjust enrichment, and breach of warranty, among others.

Waterproof mascara brands that may contain PFAS include:

  • L’Oreal

Voluminous Waterproof Mascara

Lash Paradise Waterproof Mascara

Telescopic Waterproof Mascara

  • Maybelline

Great Lash Waterproof Mascara

Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara

Volum’ Express Falsies Waterproof Mascara

Volum’ Express Colossal Waterproof Mascara

Total Temptation Waterproof Mascara

  • Cover Girl

Lash Blast Volume Waterproof Mascara

Lashblast Clump Crusher Waterproof Mascara

  • Estee Lauder

Sumptuous Extreme or Sumptuous Rebel Waterproof Mascara

Double Wear Waterproof Mascara

Little Black Primer Waterproof Mascara

  • PUR Mascara
  • Burt’s Bees

Nourishing Mascara

All Aflutter Mascara

  • Almay Multi-Benefit Mascara

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No PFAS in Cosmetics Act

After the study came out, some senators planned to put together a bill called the “No PFAS in Cosmetics Act.” This bill is ready to shield cosmetics and weed out any cosmetics that contain PFAS. U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Richard Blumenthal, along with other senators, introduced a new act called the “No PFAS in Cosmetics Act” to ban PFAS chemicals in cosmetics, including mascara, makeup products, moisturizers, and perfume.

The proposed bill instructs the FDA to create and finalize a rule prohibiting the intentional addition of PFAS in cosmetics within a set timeframe following the enactment of the act. Senator Collins emphasized the necessity of this act, highlighting PFAS contamination issues and stressing the right of Americans to trust the safety of their personal care products.

Senator Blumenthal echoed this sentiment, pointing out the current lack of regulation regarding the chemicals in cosmetics and expressing his pride in contributing to the initiative aiming to remove PFAS from the environment and safeguard individuals from the toxic effects of these chemicals. Other representatives from public health organizations and environmental groups praised the initiative, emphasizing the urgency of addressing PFAS use in cosmetics to protect public health.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services is informed to put forward a rule for this ban 270 days after the enactment of the act and to finalize it within 90 days after its proposal. The targeted substance of the ban contains at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom, and it must be man-made. The motive of the ban is to control the usage of PFAS chemicals and to safeguard human beings.

Click to read the bill.

Recent Government Actions in Canada

The federal government of Canada is beginning to take steps to address the issue of PFAS in consumer products. While there has been a call for greater transparency in labeling, which would help consumers make informed choices, the true solution lies in banning or regulating toxic substances to safeguard public health and the environment, rather than putting the burden on consumers to navigate complex ingredient lists.

Despite having a track record of permitting the use of chemicals that are restricted in other regions like Europe, largely due to outdated legislation such as the two-decade-old Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), the Canadian government is showing signs of progress. Some of the notable actions include:

  1. Initiating risk assessments of PFAS as a group instead of individual analysis, a move that aims to withstand potential resistance from the chemical industry.
  2. Considering the compulsory listing of all ingredients in specific consumer goods.
  3. Launching Bill C-28 to overhaul CEPA, recognizing the right to a healthy environment and aiming to shield vulnerable groups from harmful substances.

While these developments are a step in the right direction, there is an urgent call to enhance and expedite the approval of Bill C-28 to establish substantial protections against toxics soon. It is vital to maintain this momentum and urge the federal government to strengthen and promptly pass the bill, fostering a healthier environment and populace.

Waterproof Mascara Lawsuits

People who accidentally exposed themselves to dangerous chemicals that were not on the product label by using beauty products including mascara, eyeliner, and liquid lip tints that may contain PFAS may be entitled to compensation.

Waterproof mascara lawsuits are still in the initial stages. If you got hurt due to PFAS-contaminated cosmetics, then it is time to sue the negligent manufacturers. Numerous claims are still pending, and no settlements have been provided.

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To wrap things up,

In recent years, waterproof mascara lawsuits have gathered people’s attention. Brands should ensure that their products do not cause harm or unintended side effects. Consumers should be well-informed about the products they use and be vigilant in reporting any adverse effects. Moving forward, it’s imperative for regulatory bodies, cosmetic brands, and consumers to work together to ensure product safety and efficacy in the beauty industry.

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