An investigation by the BBC has found that make-up products by Urban Decay, Revolution and Inglot being sold in the UK contain harmful poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Although these toxic chemicals are still legal in the UK, they have been linked to serious health conditions, including birth defects, thyroid issues and cancer, and on Friday five European countries are due to propose an EU-wide ban on their manufacture and use.

With an increasing number of brands now ‘PFAS-free’, L’Oréal (owner of Urban Decay), Revolution and Inglot told the BBC they’re phasing out the chemicals, however its investigation discovered products produced by these brands containing PFAS called PTFE and polyperfluoromethylisopropyl ether are being sold in multiple stores and on their websites. The products include Revolution Power Shadow Palette 90’S Baby, Urban Decay Smoked Palette and Inglot Evening Kiss Eyeshadow Palette.

Professor Miriam Diamond, an environmental chemist at Toronto University, told the BBC that consumers should be concerned about low-level contamination in products because of the limited information around the long-term toxic effects of PFAS.

Most commonly used in eyeshadows, foundation, mascara and lipsticks, PFAS can’t be broken down naturally, so they build up in rivers and soil, and have also been detected in human blood.

Following a 2021 Environment Agency (EA) review into PFAS use in the UK, which found that nine PFAS compounds were still being used in the UK cosmetic industry, the UK Health and Safety Executive is due to publish an assessment of their health risks.