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New Zealand bans ‘forever chemicals’ in cosmetics by 2026


New Zealand bans ‘forever chemicals’ in cosmetics by 2026
New Zealand's Environmental Protection Authority has announced it has moved to ban PFAS, sometimes referred to as 'forever chemicals,’ in cosmetic products.

Nail polish, shaving cream, foundation, lipstick, and mascara are all products that sometimes use PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of about 10,000 synthetic chemicals. They are added to smooth the skin, or to make cosmetic products more durable, spreadable and water resistant.

PFAs will be banned from 31 December 2026 in a move to protect consumers from the chemicals that are believed to linger, with concern around how they affect humans and the environment. The law will prevent cosmetic products containing PFAS from being imported, manufactured or sold in the country.

The new ruling is believed to make New Zealand one of the first countries in the world to take this step. The USA state of California was the first major jurisdiction to ban all PFAS in cosmetics, in September 2022.

“We know these chemicals don’t easily break down, they can build up in our bodies, and some can be toxic at high levels,” explains Dr Shaun Presow, Hazardous Substances Reassessments Manager.

“International research suggests PFAS are only found in a small number of products, but we take a precautionary approach to potential risks from PFAS. Banning these chemicals in cosmetics is part of our ongoing response, which includes phasing out all PFAS-firefighting foams and testing for background levels of PFAS in the New Zealand environment.”

The decision on PFAS is one of a number of updates that have been made to the Cosmetic Products Group Standard, to ensure cosmetic products are safe and the rules better align with international developments.

Dr Presow says the authority has also strengthened the regulations so non-hazardous cosmetic products that contain a hazardous ingredient are now regulated.

“This makes it easier for us to enforce the rules around banned and restricted ingredients that may be found in these products.”

The EPA publicly consulted on the rule changes in 2023 and received 20 submissions, including 14 from the cosmetics industry.

The law means from 31 December 2026, cosmetic products containing PFAS are banned from being imported or manufactured in New Zealand. From 31 Dec 2027, cosmetic products containing PFAS are no longer allowed to be sold or supplied in New Zealand and by 30 June 2028, all cosmetic products containing PFAS must be disposed of.


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