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 unlabelled.
“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 Miller.
“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 babies.”
“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”.