Testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth Australia has found nanoparticles in foundations and concealers sold by 10 top name brands including Clinique, Clarins, L’Oréal, Revlon, The Body Shop, Max Factor, Lancôme Paris, By Terry, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior.

Scientific testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth Australia and carried out by the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility has found:

• Concealers, foundations and mineral foundations sold by 8 leading brands contained particles measuring less than 100nm in size
(Clinique, Clarins, L’Oréal, Revlon, The Body Shop, Max Factor, Lancôme Paris and By Terry)
• A further 2 products contained particles that measured 100nm
(Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior)

Furthermore, Friends of the Earth has found:

• 7 of the cosmetics tested contained ingredients known to act as ‘penetration enhancers’, making it more likely that nanoparticles will be taken up into the skin
• The 3 cosmetics that did not contain penetration enhancers were mineral foundations, which pose greater inhalation risks due to their powdered form
• Only one of the brands surveyed (Christian Dior) indicated the use of nano-ingredients on the product label. Failing to label nano-ingredients denies consumers the capacity to make an informed choice

The nanoparticles found are used to diffuse light (disguising wrinkles), provide sun protection or for improved colour.


Concerns about long term health risks of nano-cosmetics

The long-term health risks of nanoparticles remain poorly understood. The likely exposure in ‘real life’ conditions is also unknown. But early studies have suggested that if exposure is high enough, nanoparticles now used by the cosmetics industry could cause lung damage , cell toxicity, damage DNA, and possibly even harm unborn children.

Production of free radicals by nanoparticles used in sunscreens and cosmetics is greater when exposed to UV light. Last year, in relation to nano-sunscreens, the director of CSIRO’s Nanosafety research program warned The 7.30 Report that: “the worst case scenario, I suspect, could be development of cancer. But we don’t know. That’s what we’re trying to find out”. Dr McCall cautioned that CSIRO’s research will take another two years.

In 2004, the United Kingdom’s Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific institution, recommended that given the evidence of serious nanotoxicity risks, nanoparticles should be treated as new chemicals and subject to new safety assessments before being allowed in consumer products. It also recommended that nano-ingredients in products should be labelled, to give people the chance to make an informed choice.


Australian nano-cosmetics remain unlabelled and effectively unregulated

Europe has passed new laws that will require most nano-ingredients in sunscreens cosmetics to face new safety testing and mandatory labelling. Yet where substances have been approved for use as larger particles, Australian laws do not make companies test for safety before using these substances as nanoparticles, nor to label nano-ingredients.


Tell the national cosmetics regulator you want precautionary management of nano’s risks

Australia’s national cosmetics regulator is currently seeking public comment on its proposed new framework for regulating nanomaterials. For details visit: http://http://www.nicnas.gov.au/Current_Issues/Nanotechnology/Stakeholder_Consultation.asp

For further information visit: http://www.nicnas.gov.au, phone: 02 8577 8800 / 1800 638 528, or email: info@nicnas.gov.au.