Chemicals linked to cancer have no place in anyone’s beauty routine, yet cancer-causing chemicals are present in many different types and brands of cosmetics and personal care products found on store shelves across the United States. Due to an outdated and weak law governing cosmetics, carcinogens have not been banned – or are even restricted – for use in cosmetics in the U.S.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, has worked to secure agreements from major cosmetics makers to take immediate action to eliminate cancer-causing chemicals from products.

Companies targeted by the Campaign include:


While you might not recognize the cosmetic giant Unilever by name, adults and kids alike are loyal consumers of many of its popular brands like Suave, Axe, Caress, Dove, Degree, and Clear. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics research uncovered:

  • Formaldehyde-releasing preservative DMDM hydantoin in Suave shampoos and conditioners and Axe hair products;
  • Sodium laureth sulfate, a chemical which is linked to 1,4-dioxane contamination, in Caress body washes and Dove shampoos and conditioners, and Clear shampoos and conditioners; and
  • Fragrance, a catch-all term for a chemical concoction which can contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and environmental toxicants alike, in every Unilever brand we researched!
  • As the third largest personal care products company in the world, generating $16 billion in beauty sales annually, Unilever can and should do better.

L’Oreal is the world’s largest cosmetics maker, owning iconic beauty brands Maybelline and Garnier. An investigation by the Campaign found carcinogens in L’Oreal eye makeup, anti-aging creams, nail polish and hair products.

Kids’ products aren’t free of cancer-causing chemicals either. The Campaign found DMDM hydantoin in L’Oreal Kids 2-in-1 shampoos, a chemical that releases the carcinogen formaldehyde to preserve the product.

Procter & Gamble

P&G is the nation’s largest maker of personal care products, including Cover Girl, Max Factor, Pantene, Olay, Herbal Essences and Miss Jessie’s hair products. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics research found carcinogens in Cover Girl blushes, mascaras, and eye shadows, Max Factor mascara, Olay anti-aging creams and more.



In 2013, over 50,000 people signed a petition or action alert demanding that cosmetics giant Revlon remove certain toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer and women’s reproductive diseases. We didn’t back down, and in December 2014, Revlon agreed to remove two formaldehyde-releasing chemicals and cocamide DEA, as well as other dangerous substances from women’s makeup and personal care products!

Press release >