Testing commissioned by Friends
of the Earth has found nanoparticles in foundations and concealers sold
by big name brands, including Revlon, Clarins, Clinique, Max Factor, the Body
Shop, L'Oréal, By Terry and Lancôme Paris.
The use of nanoparticles in high exposure consumer applications such as cosmetics
has attracted increasing controversy as evidence of potential toxicity has grown.
In May, NSW Minister for Science and Research, Ms Jodi McKay, said the NSW
Government would raise the possibility of labelling nanoparticles in cosmetics
and sunscreens with the Federal Government, but as yet nano-cosmetics remain
“Friends of the Earth believes that Australian women shouldn't
be used as guinea pigs by the big cosmetics companies and the nanotechnology
industry”, said Friends of the Earth nanotechnology spokesperson Georgia
“Early scientific studies show that when exposed to UV light, nanoparticles
used in cosmetics produce free radicals that damage DNA and cells. If nanoparticles
gain access to the bloodstream of pregnant women, they could even harm unborn
“Millions of Australian women wear make-up every day. Yet even in this
high exposure nano-product the government does not require companies to test
the safety of nano-ingredients – or to label them.”
“Of the ten products we surveyed, only one listed the use of nano-ingredients
on the label. The government's failure to require mandatory labelling
of nano-ingredients denies women the capacity to make an informed choice about
what they put on their skin.”
“A big concern is that in 7 of the 10 products we surveyed, Friends of
the Earth found ingredients that are known to act as ‘penetration enhancers'.
These ingredients alter skin structure, promoting the uptake of chemicals. This
increases the possibility that nanoparticles used in the cosmetics will be absorbed
into women's skin.”
“The 3 products that did not contain skin ‘penetration enhancers'
were mineral foundations – and these products pose risks of inhalation.”
“Beauty products don't have a fantastic track record through the
centuries. But in 2009, the public quite rightly expects that regulators will
keep high risk ingredients out of cosmetics.”
“We are calling for a stop to sales of cosmetics that contain nano-ingredients,
until the safety science catches up, and new laws are introduced to make companies
test the safety of their products and to label all nano-ingredients,”
said Ms Miller. “We are also calling for public participation in decision
making about nanotechnology management”.