A program of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

Chemical linked to breast cancer found in popular anti-aging skin care products

New report from Breast Cancer Fund’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reveals toxic contaminants in L’Oréal Garnier and P&G Cover Girl products.

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2015
 Erika Wilhelm, (415) 321-2920

SAN FRANCISCO – Newly published test results show that a toxic contaminant linked to cancer known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was found in anti-aging products from beloved brands Garnier and CoverGirl. PFOA is a contaminant of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), an ingredient used to create a smooth finish on some cookware and personal care products.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, sent products created by top multinational cosmetic companies to an independent laboratory to have them tested for the presence of toxic chemicals. The following three anti-aging products were found to contain PFOA:

  • Garnier Ultra-Lift Transformer Anti-age Skin Corrector
  • Garnier Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer
  • Cover Girl Advanced Radiance with Olay, Age Defying Pressed Powder

Read the full report: ANTI-AGING SECRETS EXPOSED Chemical Linked to Breast Cancer in Skin Care

“There’s nothing glamorous about using an anti-aging product that not only contains a chemical used to coat pans but is also contaminated with a chemical that is linked to breast cancer.  Sadly, the very demographic most affected by breast cancer is one of the key marketing targets for these products.  The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is asking both Covergirl  and Garnier  to remove chemicals linked to breast cancer from their cosmetic products,” said Janet Nudelman, director and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Most consumers assume the FDA regulates cosmetic products just as it does food and drugs to assure safety. In fact, cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products available to the public. To make matters worse, contaminants in a finished cosmetic product that occur as byproducts of the manufacturing process, by law, don’t have to be listed on the product label. That means chemicals like PFOA can hide in a cosmetic or personal care product without consumers knowing.

Taken alone, chemicals in any one consumer product may not cause harm. Unfortunately, people are repeatedly exposed to industrial chemicals from many different sources, including cosmetics, on a daily basis. The average American woman uses 12 personal care products a day, resulting in exposure to as many as 126 unique chemicals from personal care products alone.

The combined exposure from personal care products adds to our daily exposure to hazardous chemicals from air, water, food and other consumer products. These chemicals end up in our bodies, our breast milk and our children; they contaminate drinking water and wildlife; and they build up in the food chain.

As part of its “Cosmetics Without Cancer” initiative  to pressure the world’s cosmetics giants to stop using chemicals linked to cancer, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is calling on L’Oréal to make a public commitment to eliminate cancer chemicals and fully disclose the ingredients in the products they make—including toxic contaminants such as PFOA and the chemicals that hide under the term “fragrance.”

“Women shouldn’t have to worry about whether they are adding to their breast cancer risk when buying anti-aging or other beauty products,” said Nudelman. “L’Oréal and P&G should clean up their beauty products but at the end of the day we need a government that protects everyone from toxic chemicals in cosmetics. Congress should enact comprehensive cosmetic safety legislation that gives the FDA the statutory authority it needs to effectively regulate the $71 billion cosmetic industry; requires full ingredient disclosure; and sets a strong and health protective safety standard. Only then will the confidence of the American public in the safety of cosmetics and personal care products be restored.”


The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition working to make personal care products safe for people and the planet. Find out more at: https://www.safecosmetics.org. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP), formerly the Breast Cancer Fund.

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