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The Truth About BPA in Cosmetics

by EcoDiva on February 19, 2010


I began replacing all plastic containers in the kitchen since last year since the chemical “Bisphenol-A (BPA)” started to creep up in the paper, news, and in store shelves. Who can forget the whole Nalgene episode and subsequent premiere of “BPA-Free” labels on their bottles in BIG BOLD letters in colorful circular decals? And how about the Sigg Water Bottle company that quietly took their aluminum bottles off the shelves after EWG’s urging to remove them because their epoxy lining contained BPA?

I wrote about the Endocrine Society’s findings last year and recently, how BPA is found even in toilet paper and pizza boxes.

It’s maddening how BPA is in EVERYTHING!!

Photo: Steven DePolo

Photo: Steven DePolo

What is BPA?

According to Chemical Sensitivities Manitoba (CSM), “Bisphenol A (BPA), a high volume production substance worldwide, is utilized in epoxy and epoxy-modified resins, electrical encapsulations, internal lining of food and drink cans, polycarbonate (PC) and items from PC, dental materials, automotive components, medical devices, tin plating additives and cosmetics, among other products. This diversity of its usage makes its presence pervasive.”

How does BPA affect our health?

BPA can cause breast cancer, prostate cancer, interferes with reproductive system, infant development, heart disease, diabetes, and interferes with cellular development in the uterus even before the fetus is born. Although our exposure might be minuscule from one product, it’s the accumulative effect that will damage on the cellular level over time.

In Cosmetics?

BPA is most commonly used in hard plastics, like those clear tough water bottles – and yes, even those 5 gallon water cooler bottles and some pitchers. It is also used in canned foods – except for some cans like Eden Foods’ Organic Beans. It is even in infants’ formula cans and plastic sippy cups and also in baby food jar lids. And since babies are more vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures, it is especially alarming.

But in cosmetics? Again, according to CSM, “BPA-based polymers may be used in the production of cosmetics, such as lipsticks, face and eye makeup and nail lacquers and it was expected that BPA exposure through this type of dermal contact to be minimal. This is direct skin exposure and depending on the type of cosmetic, there can be frequent exposure. There were no scientific references to qualify this assumption of minimal harm and neither were there any explanations as to the rationale for the presence of BPA-based polymers in cosmetics. Also not known or mentioned in the assessment is the packing composition of some cosmetics – are they BPA-based or not.”

So, what do we do?

Assumptions cannot be made as to the safety of BPA-containing cosmetics since the government has not provided any evidence as to the effects of these products on human health. So until further research can be done or proper BPA warning labels can be seen on the packaging, we have to minimize BPA exposure ourselves.

  • Use cosmetics that come in glass jars or stainless steel containers
  • Use organic cosmetics to avoid BPA in the ingredients.
  • Avoid plastics that are labeled #7 as the hard plastic is polycarbonate that contains BPA.
  • Although plastic is not labeled #7, some still do contain BPA so do not heat in plastic containers in microwave or wash in dishwasher as high heat can leech BPA into the content. Even if the packaging states it is Microwaveable, it only means that the plastic won’t melt in the microwave; not that it’s safe for humans.
  • Avoid refillable hard plastic water bottles without #7 stamp – the chances are, they are polycarbonate.
  • Do not eat canned foods – it’s healthier to eat freshly prepared meals anyway so avoid canned foods – especially canned tomatoes as the acid makes BPA leech out. Except for Eden organic beans, even organic foods can’t escape BPA as the linings of cans contain BPA.

For list of items that contain BPA, please visit ecokaren.

Sign this petition to ban BPA.

Watch this video by Bill Moyer about BPA.

*On a related note, Origins will take any cosmetic packaging, from any company, to recycle or for energy recovery and in exchange, you will receive a sample of their skincare product.

{Brush Image Credit: annia316 }
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February 19, 2010 at 10:49 am
Truth about BPA in cosmetics on Eco Diva
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Eco Mama February 19, 2010 at 11:44 am

I know, can you believe it? I recently read it’s in a lot of medicines as well. Why not? Mad world big time.
Eco Mama

admin February 19, 2010 at 11:51 am

Eco Mama,

It is frustrating to see how much of our world is toxic. BUT…I truly believe that if each of us gets educated and use our dollars to vote for the products that we want in our lives, the manufacturers WILL get the message.

Thanks for visiting & becoming empowered!!


Celise February 19, 2010 at 11:39 pm

You say: “Use cosmetics that come in glass jars or stainless steel containers”

If you could list some specific brands, that would be helpful.

ecokaren February 20, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Hi Celise,

This is my personal preference, of course, but I don’t use creams or lotions that are NOT in glass jars. I personally like Origins (Dr. Weil’s line is my favorite) and Dr. Hauschka’s skin care line. I only use plant based organic ingredients. That’s sometimes hard to find since “water” is not considered organic and you have to make sure that companies don’t call their products organic if there’s water in it. But with Origins and Dr. Hauschka’s line, I feel safe with their products.

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