Have you recently found your favorite green beauty brand has indications of PFAS from our study and when you asked them you got a confusing answer? How do you know if your green beauty brand is fooling you about PFAS “forever chemicals” when you ask them? It’s possible that they are operating testing that isn’t useful in answering your question. How do you find out? You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like best green beauty without PFAS “forever chemicals,” best dental floss sans PFAS, and best air purifiers, now join us for ways you can tell if your green beauty brand is fooling you about PFAS.
Disclosure: This post was scientifically reviewed by Scott Belcher, Associate Professor with the Center for Environmental & Health Effects of PFAS at North Carolina State University. This post was also medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post contains affiliate links.
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Mamavation Found Indications of PFAS in Most Green Beauty Brands
Mamavation commissioned a study on indications of PFAS in green beauty brands and disrupted the comfort and marketing tactics of the green beauty industry. Originally, we tested 82 products and found that 65% of them came back from the lab with an indication of PFAS above 10 parts per million. This, of course, was not welcomed by most of the industry because it showcased how they also have issues with PFAS, just like conventional makeup brands.
Prior to our study, another major study on conventional makeup found some of the same issues we found. The difference is they sent over 200+ products to the lab, identified which PFAS chemical was found in the worst products, and only focused on conventional beauty brands. Our study was considerably smaller, we did not identify any of the PFAS directly, and all products were considered “green beauty makeup” brands. Here’s what they found:
- 63% of foundations had indications of PFAS
- 82% of waterproof mascara had indications of PFAS
- 62% of long-lasting lipstick had indications of PFAS
We followed this study and started testing green beauty mascara and lip products immediately because our audience asked us to. Since then, we’ve tested over 120+ green beauty makeup products and have assisted numerous green beauty brands reformulate their products PFAS-free. Any green beauty brand that came to us behind the scenes was offered help free of charge. The only thing they needed to be willing to do was to share ALL the details with us so we could then share those details with other brands. Mamavation has been central to lots of change in this green beauty space. Our sharing of knowledge has been invaluable to help other green beauty brands find their issues and reformulate.
Unfortunately, Some of these brands have decided instead to deny the validity of our study and work against us behind the scenes instead of contacting us for help. You can tell who those brands are by simply asking them about our study and why they had detections from our lab.
Extractable Organic Fluorine (EOF) Testing Vs. Organic Fluorine Testing
After our green beauty investigation was done, we noticed some green beauty brands, especially ones sold at Credo, were handing consumers Extractable Organic Fluorine testing. Most of these brands got their testing at Eurofins, which is a lab we also use for different types of testing. This is how we were able to recognize very quickly what was happening.
The reason Mamavation does not use EOF testing to look for indications of PFAS is because our advisors (who are at the top of their fields) warned us not to use it because it typically excludes PTFE chemicals.
This is complicated. So I’ll try to explain this the best I can.
More Technical Reasons We Don’t Use Extractable Organic Fluorine Testing for Cosmetics
The type of EOF testing done in 2021 by lots of green beauty brands does NOT extract any polymers (including PTFE chemicals) and therefore does not have the capability to detect all PFAS chemicals you want to know about, especially the type we are finding a lot of in green beauty — PTFE. Although EOF & AOF (Absorbable Organic Fluorine) testing is more expensive and can go down further to the parts per billion, whereas ours can only go down to the parts per million, it gives you a far more limited picture.
Extractable Organic Fluorine only detects a subset of PFAS that can be 1) dissolved in the solution used for extraction and 2) bound or “absorbed” to the “solid phase” during extraction. These steps are most often used to 1) increase the sensitivity of the assay by concentrating dissolved PFAS from a larger sample into a small volume that can be analyzed, and 2) “clean up” samples by selectively separating some PFAS from other chemicals that may interfere with the final quantification. Often this is used to remove the element fluoride when it is suspected of being present, such as in drinking water.
These steps leave a big hole in the analysis because some PFAS can not be dissolved in the extraction solution and/or not absorbed by the material used to isolate the PFAS. Therefore, EOF testing can only tell you the presence of some PFAS chemicals, but not all. This testing cannot find insoluble PFAS polymers like PTFE, and plastics modified to contain PFAS, which leaves out a BIG HOLE of other PFAS chemicals that can be present.
In other words, they got the wrong test. OR they should have also tested for organic fluorine as well.
Since 2020, Mamavation has helped several brands find their PFAS issues and eliminate them. This is how we know that the green beauty industry is full of Teflon. And thus, If you aren’t testing for PTFE-type Teflon chemicals, you aren’t finding PTFE-type Teflon chemicals. It’s that simple.
How To Ask Your Favorite Green Beauty Brand About PFAS Testing
It’s important for you to be armed with the correct information for you to protect your own health, and the health of your family, especially if you are pregnant or handing this makeup to young girls.
Here are some questions you can ask green beauty brands about their testing of PFAS “forever chemicals.”
- Fully Formulated Product Testing vs. Just Ingredient Testing: Ask them if they have ever independently tested their products for organic fluorine (with the packaging) as it is consumed by the consumer. (Not just the ingredients by themselves.) This will tell you if they are operating testing that (1) tells you about how a finished formulated product exposes the consumer, (2) whether the packaging is also in the mix because it can be source of contamination, & (3) tells you if they are using the right type of testing to determine if they any PTFE (teflon) type chemicals as well. If they say yes, ask to see that testing.
- Extractable Organic Fluorine Testing vs. Organic Fluorine Testing: What to do if they hand you results that look like this? Extractable organic fluorine testing is exactly like it sounds — an extraction is done first. Looks impressive and it’s expensive, but it can’t tell you if there are any PTFE-type chemicals in your makeup. Remember, PTFE is PFAS. Make sure to tell them that most EOF testing does not extract PFAS polymers and does not tell us about all the PTFE chemicals that could be present. Most of what Mamavation has found in green beauty makeup is actually from fluorinated contamination that is all PTFE related. So if a brand won’t look into organic fluorine type of testing, they will never know. Maybe that’s better for them liability-wise, but it does not help your family avoid PFAS. Here’s an example of EOF testing done at Eurofins and this testing does not extract polymers.
- Timing: Ask them if this testing is for this current batch of makeup, when the testing was done, and if they did organic fluorine testing. I say this because some makeup brands were handing out testing that was done in the fall of 2021 as you see above. This testing was handed to us by a consumer who was asking them questions about testing in January of 2023, which is quite sometime later. If it’s the same batch, tell them you want to see organic fluorine testing, not EOF or AOF testing.
- Middlemen: Ask them if they have done any independent testing for organic fluorine without relying on middlemen. Most green beauty brands do not operate organic fluorine testing at all. They rely on middlemen who are sourcing or manufacturing their makeup to do most of that “independent testing” for them. Which I’m not so sure counts as independent, right? Those manufacturers & middlemen obviously have some skin in the game.
Is your Favorite Green Beauty Brand Upset About This Testing?
The vast majority of green beauty brands are not doing the type of testing you think they are doing. I found this out very quickly after we posted this original study on green beauty. Some brands admitted they had not done any organic fluorine testing while others said it was because they didn’t know how to do it. Some other brands are avoiding questions when we ask them about independent testing. And finally, more of them are just not providing us with testing at all or acknowledging this consumer study. But some are giving consumers the wrong information. So if you are coming here because your brand gave you an odd answer, here are some additional things that may help you.
- What if they tell you that they don’t like or believe in Mamavation’s testing? Here’s a quote you can take to the bank from one of our main advisors who develops methods for testing PFAS for the federal government at the Center for Environmental and Health Effects of PFAS at North Carolina State University. This is one of our main advisors on PFAS, Scott Belcher, and his quote on the importance of organic fluorine testing. “Fluoropolymers, such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or Teflon®, are extremely common forms of PFAS that can be contributing to the organic fluorine found in consumer products. Methods used for detecting individual PFAS, such as PFOA or GenX, cannot directly identify PTFE. However, the analysis of total organic fluorine does account for all PFAS contaminants in consumer products, including PTFE. Therefore, this method of testing serves as a good ‘spot-check’ of consumer products.” Bottomline: Our methods may not be likable by the industry or convenient for them, but they are still very valid for “spot-checking” the industry.
- Recent State Laws Regarding PFAS Use Organic Fluorine or Total Fluorine Testing: Another reason to take this type of testing more seriously is the fact that states that are passing laws to restrict PFAS in food packaging and other consumer products are basing it on total fluorine testing or organic fluorine testing. One law recently passed in California mandates fast food and fast-casual brands have no more than 100 parts per million of total fluorine in food packaging. “The presence of PFAS in a product or product component at or above 100 parts per million, as measured in total organic fluorine.” Total fluorine testing is also done on EVERY cosmetic brand Mamavation tests. If we find something, we operate more testing to identify how much of it is likely PFAS vs. fluoride.
- More Proof We Aren’t Fooling You: Mamavation is in partnership with Environmental Health News and The Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University for advisement with our PFAS consumer studies. They have been reviewing and advising us on our consumer studies since 2021.
- Mamavation’s Advisors on PFAS Consumer Studies: Scientific reviews of PFAS consumer studies starting in 2021 were performed by (1) Terrence Collins, Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry & Director of the Institute for Green Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, (2) Linda S. Birnbaum, Scientist Emeritus and Former Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program & Scholar at Residence at Duke University, North Carolina University, & Yale University, (3) Pete Myers, Chief Scientist at Environmental Health Sciences, Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, and Co-Author of Our Stolen Future, & (4) Scott Belcher, Associate Professor with the Center for Environmental & Health Effects of PFAS at North Carolina State University. These advisors were very interested in our Green Beauty investigation and signed on to help with all the others going forward.
- How Does Mamavation Pay For PFAS Studies: It’s a combination of donations from the Mamavation community, donations from Environmental Health News, and the rest is paid out of my own pocket. If you would like to contribute, you can donate directly to Environmental Health News and simply state it’s for PFAS testing.
Green Beauty Products with Non-Detect Findings for Indications of PFAS According to Our Lab
These brands did not have detectable fluorine at 10 parts per million in the products that were tested. This does not mean that they don’t have any PFAS, but it means that it was not detectable at 10 parts per million, which is the standardized test we used for most consumer studies. In the future, we hope to test down to lower levels as those tests & methods become better and more affordable. Some of these brands were found to have indications of PFAS in 2021 and later reformulated with the help of Mamavation. You can see the entire consumer study here.
- 100% Pure: 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara (non-detect), 100% Pure Lip Caramel Lip Gloss (non-detect), & 100% Pure Bamboo Blur Tinted Moisturizer (non-detect) (Use discount code “MAMAVATION20” for 20% off all 100% Pure products)
- Aisling Organics: Aisling Organics Mascara Black (non-detect) & Aisling Organics Lip Gloss (non-detect) (Use discount code “MAMAVATION10” for 10% off all Aisling Organic products.)
- Beautycounter: Beautycounter All-n-1 Mascara (non-detect), Beautycounter Beyond Gloss (non-detect) & Beautycounter Skin Twin Featherweight Foundation (non-detect)
- Crunchi: Crunchi Shattered Mascara (non-detect), Crunchi Datenight Hydrogloss (non-detect) & Crunchi My Alibi Concealer (non-detect)
- Doucce: Doucce Punk Volumizer Mascara black (non-detect) [updated 5-23-22]
- FITGLOW Beauty: FITGLOW Beauty Lip Colour Serum (non-detect) & FITGLOW Beauty Vegan Good Lash Mascara (non-detect), & FITGLOW Beauty Beauty Plum Lash Primer (non-detect) & FITGLOW Foundation (non-detect) (Use discount code “Mamavation20” for 20% off all FitGlow Beauty products)
- Jane Iredale: Jane Iredale HydroPure Hyaluronic Lip Gloss (non-detect)
- H&M: H&M Maximalist Mascara Deep Black (non-detect) & H&M Lip Colour Heartfelt (non-detect)
- Henne: Henne Luxury Lip Tint – Desire (non-detect)
- Lily Lolo: Lily Lolo Natural Mascara (non-detect)
- MISMACK: MISMACK Amp’d Up Mascara (non-detect)
- Prim & Pure: Prim & Pure Mineral Lip Gloss for Kids (non-detect)
- Primally Pure: Primally Pure Lip Balm Creamsicle (non-detect) (Use discount code “MAMAVATION” for 10% off the entire order.)
- Pure Haven: Pure Haven Mascara (non-detect), Pure Haven Clear Shine Lip Gloss (non-detect), & Pure Haven Tinted Moisturizer (non-detect)
- Root: Root 100% Lash Mascara (non-detect) & Root Wonderlip Ellie (non-detect)
- Sante Naturkosmetik: Sante Naturkosmetik Lipgloss No. 02 Nude silk (non-detect)
- Sappho New Paradigm Cosmetics: Sappho New Paradigm Maximum Intensity Vegan Mascara (non-detect), Sappo New Paradigm Essential Foundation (non-detect) (Use discount code “MAMAVATION2022” for 10% off entire order till Sept. 30th)
- Toups & Co Organics: Toups & Co. Organics Lip Gloss Ti Amo 310 (non-detect)
- Truvani: Truvani Lip Conditioner (non-detect)
More Consumer Studies on Indications of PFAS in Products
Mamavation has been working hard to discover where to find PFAS “forever chemicals” inside food & other products we purchase and bring inside our homes. This is why we have decided to commission our own consumer studies on indications of PFAS in different consumer categories and share that information with you. Here is what we can offer you today!
- Pasta & Tomato Sauces
- Nut Butters (Peanut butter, etc.)
- Cooking Oils (olive oil, almond oil, canola oil, etc)
- Activewear (Yoga Pants)
- Sports Bras
- Green Beauty Makeup
- Dental Floss
- Toilet Paper
- Period Underwear
- Parchment Paper
- Bamboo Flooring
- Baby Strollers
- Sanitary Pads & Incontinence Pads
We also have other non-toxic investigations on products for your children or the rest of your family. Here are some that we thought you may like.