A proposed class action alleges certain bareMinerals foundation, concealer and lipstick products are not as "clean" as advertised due to the presence of harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or “forever chemicals.”
The 55-page lawsuit out of New York alleges bareMinerals has “unfairly gained the trust” of health-conscious consumers by touting certain makeup items as “clean,” “natural” and free from harsh chemicals and unnecessary additives while “fraudulently conceal[ing]” that some of its products are in fact made with chemicals that are "entirely inconsistent" with the brand's clean beauty campaign.
“In reality, the PFAS Makeup is not clean or natural as it contains potentially harmful chemicals that are in no way ‘clean’ or ‘natural,’” the lawsuit summarizes.
Be sure to scroll down to see which bareMinerals makeup products the lawsuit says contain “forever chemicals.”
Overall, the lawsuit says that the presence of PFAS, long-lasting chemicals that break down very slowly over time, in certain bareMinerals makeup does not jibe with what consumers expect from a brand that has proclaimed itself the “Creators of Clean Beauty.” The case alleges that each type of bareMinerals product tested by the plaintiffs was found to contain PFAS, and the company’s misrepresentations are intentional, careless and render the makeup worthless or less valuable.
“If Defendant had disclosed to Plaintiffs and putative Class Members that the PFAS Makeup contained PFAS, Plaintiffs and putative Class Members would not have purchased the PFAS Makeup or they would have paid less for it,” the complaint says.
The lawsuit relays that PFAS are highly persistent and potentially harmful human-made chemicals that have been associated with “a variety of negative health effects for humans and the environment.” Per the suit, PFAS are sometimes called “forever chemicals” since their carbon-fluorine bonds are some of the strongest in nature. Health risks associated with PFAS, the lawsuit says, citing one beauty blogger, can include increased cholesterol, increased blood pressure during pregnancy, increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer, and decreased vaccine response in children.
Per the filing, products such as foundation and concealer, which a wearer essentially leaves on the skin for extended periods of time, pose a greater risk of PFAS exposure than others that are washed off immediately after application.
“As the skin is the body’s largest organ, subjecting it to absorption of PFAS through foundation and concealers is very concerning,” the complaint reads.
The suit, citing the FDA, states that PFAS are often used intentionally in lotions, cleansers, nail polish, shaving cream and makeup to “condition, smooth, or make [the] skin appear shiny.” For cosmetics, PFAS are also added to increase durability and water resistance, the case says. Common names for PFAS found in cosmetics include PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), perfluorooctyl triethoxysilane, perfluorononyl dimethicone, perfluorodecalin and perfluorohexane, according to the complaint.
By law, all ingredients in a cosmetic product must be listed on the label, in descending order of magnitude, the lawsuit stresses.
According to the filing, a June 2021 study titled “Fluorinated Compounds in North American Cosmetics” analyzed whether certain products contained PFAS by assessing total fluorine content, a marker for PFAS.
“We found fluorine as a surrogate for PFAS in all sorts of cosmetics,” said study author Graham Peaslee, University of Notre Dame professor of physics, chemistry and biochemistry. “We didn’t expect almost every cosmetic to light up like it did.”
Per the lawsuit, the study found that around 88 percent of the 231 products tested failed to disclose on their labels any ingredients that “would explain those chemical markers.”
As the lawsuit tells it, the study ultimately shined a light on how pervasive PFAS are in all manner of cosmetic products:
The Study concluded that more than three-quarters of waterproof mascara, nearly two-thirds of foundations and liquid lipsticks, and more than half of eye and lip products had high fluorine concentrations, indicating PFAS were likely present.
In addition, samples from 29 of the products with the highest levels of fluorine were sent to an outside lab for an in-depth analysis that could identify 53 specific PFAS chemicals. The analysis found each of those 29 products contained at least four PFAS chemicals of concern.
In 28 of the 29 products—like the PFAS Makeup here—PFAS chemicals were not disclosed on the label.”
Also cited in the complaint is a 2019 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Program study that found that PFAS have “adverse effects” on human organs, in particular the liver and thyroid.
What bareMinerals products are mentioned in the lawsuit?
The case claims the following non-exhaustive list of bareMinerals makeup products contain PFAS chemicals:
BAREPRO Performance Wear Liquid Foundation SPF 20; BAREPRO 16-Hr Full Coverage Concealer; BAREPRO Longwear Lipstick; Original Liquid Mineral Foundation; and GEN NUDE Matte Liquid Lipstick.
The suit argues that given bareMinerals’ uniform and pervasive representations that its makeup is “clean” and “natural,” a reasonable consumer would have no reason to believe that the products contain ingredients that are harmful to humans and the environment. Ultimately, bareMinerals’ marketing of the makeup is “aimed at convincing consumers” otherwise, the case alleges.
“As alleged herein, Plaintiffs and the Classes received something worth less than what they paid for and did not receive the benefit of their bargain,” the complaint charges. “They paid for the PFAS Makeup which was supposed to be clean and natural, but they received neither.”
Who does the lawsuit hope to cover?
The case looks to represent individuals in the United States who bought bareMinerals makeup products that contain PFAS chemicals, including those listed on this page, during the maximum period allowed by law.
I have some bareMinerals makeup listed in the lawsuit. What should I do?
Generally speaking, there’s nothing you need to do to join or be considered included in a class action. It’ll only be if and when a lawsuit settles that those covered by the case, called “class members,” would need to act, which typically entails filing a claim form online or by mail.
If, say, a settlement were to be reached for the lawsuit detailed on this page, bareMinerals customers covered by the suit would most likely receive a notice, by mail and/or email, with instructions on how to submit a claim, the details of the deal between the company and consumers, their legal rights, and more.
Keep in mind, though, that class actions tend to take some time to work through the legal process, usually toward a settlement, dismissal or arbitration outside of court. Consumers who have purchased any of the bareMinerals makeup listed on this page should sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter.