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30 January 2024

Forever chemicals to finally be banned in cosmetics

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has banned the use of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), also known as forever chemicals, from cosmetics.

Image of cosmetics

The ban will happen in three phases:

  • From 31 December 2026, cosmetic products containing PFAS are banned from being imported or manufactured in New Zealand.
  • From 31 December 2027, they can’t be sold or supplied in New Zealand.
  • By 30 June 2028, all cosmetics containing PFAS must be disposed of.

Forever chemicals may be used in cosmetics to smooth the skin, or to make the products more durable, spreadable and water resistant. About half of cosmetics for sale in New Zealand contain PFAS – they could be in your lipstick, foundation, eyeliner, eyeshadow, nail polish, or mascara.

Consumer NZ research writer Belinda Castles says the ban is good news for the environment and for the health of people who wear make-up containing the chemicals.

“The problem with forever chemicals is that they can bioaccumulate in people, plants and animals. Because they are synthetic, they do not naturally biodegrade and therefore stay in the environment and are difficult to break down.”

The ban will also prevent New Zealand from becoming a dumping ground for products that are considered unacceptable in other countries.

PFAS are used in a wide range of goods – from raincoats to non-stick frying pans. Find out about the extent of PFAS in New Zealand.

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