PFAS: French MPs vote to ban “forever chemicals” in cosmetic products

Present in many everyday products, PFAS are also dubbed “forever chemicals”, due to their very long life cycle. Despite heated debates, a bill aimed at banning them in certain consumer goods was unanimously approved by French MPs.

The main provision of the bill called for a ban on the manufacture, import and sale of any cosmetic product, wax product (for skis) or clothing textile product containing per- and polyfluoroalkylated (PFAS) substances, with the exception of protective clothing for safety and civil security professionals from January 1, 2026. All other textiles containing PFAS will be forbidden from January 1, 2030. Kitchen utensils – which were initially included in the ban – were removed from the list in the course of the parliamentary debate.

In line with industry recommendation

As far as cosmetic products are concerned, the text voted by French MPs sets similar deadlines to those recommended by Cosmetics Europe. In 2023, the trade association representing the cosmetics industry in Europe called on manufacturers to phase out the use of PFAS in cosmetic products by December 31st, 2025.

Without waiting for a ban, cosmetic manufacturers have been taking voluntary steps to eliminate PFAS ingredients for several years. Their use in cosmetic products is very marginal and the few substances concerned are being substituted. Today, out of 30,000 cosmetic substances used, only eight PFAS are still identified,” the French Federation of beauty companies (FEBEA) said in a statement.

Virtually everywhere on Earth

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals that were first developed in the 1940s to withstand intense heat and repel water and grease. They have since been used in a vast range of household and industrial products including food packaging, make-up, stain-proof fabric, non-stick pots and pans and foam used to fight fires. Because PFAS take an extremely long time to break down over the years they have seeped into the soil and groundwater, getting into our food chain and drinking water in the process. These chemicals have now been detected virtually everywhere on Earth, from the top of Mount Everest to inside human blood and brains.

In several countries, such as the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium or New Zealand, PFAS are receiving increasing attention due to their presence in drinking waters and as a potential threat to health.

PFAS will be banned in cosmetics in California as of January 1, 2025. Earlier this year New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) said it will ban PFAS in cosmetics and firefighting foams by 2027. The European Union is also considering a Europe-wide ban on PFAS from as early as 2026.

In France, the bill adopted by the Assembly must now be submitted to the Senate for a second reading.

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