L’Oréal, Maybelline Waterproof Mascaras Contain Toxic PFAS, Class Action Alleges
by Erin Shaak
Last Updated on February 27, 2023
Davenport v. L’Oreal USA, Inc.
Filed: February 22, 2022 ◆§ 2:22-cv-01195
A class action claims certain L’Oréal and Maybelline waterproof mascaras contain undisclosed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can be toxic to humans.
A proposed class action claims certain L’Oréal and Maybelline waterproof mascaras contain undisclosed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that can be toxic to humans.
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According to the 39-page lawsuit, the L’Oréal products at issue—including L’Oréal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara, Voluminous Lash Paradise Waterproof Mascara, Maybelline Volum’ Express the Falsies Waterproof Mascara, Maybelline Volum’ Express Total Temptation Waterproof Mascara, Maybelline Great Lash Waterproof Mascara and Maybelline Total Temptation Waterproof Mascara—were found to contain “detectable levels” of the dangerous substances, whose presence is not disclosed to consumers on product labels.
Per the case, PFAS are human-made synthetic chemicals that, because of their chemical structure, are “highly persistent” in both the environment and human bodies. PFAS are used in cosmetic products to make them water-resistant, durable and more easily spreadable, but because the cosmetics industry is largely unregulated at the federal level, many manufacturers do not disclose the presence of PFAS on product labels, the suit says.
The complaint relays that PFAS can bioaccumulate in a person’s body and cause “harmful and serious health effects,” including altered growth, development and behavioral problems in children, damage to a person’s reproductive system, increased cholesterol, immune system damage, thyroid disease, high uric acid levels, elevated liver enzymes, ulcerative colitis, pregnancy-induced hypertension and even cancer.
According to the lawsuit, PFAS are toxic to humans at even “extremely low levels,” and their presence in cosmetic products is therefore an important factor to consumers in considering what makeup to buy. The lawsuit alleges that L’Oréal’s failure to disclose the presence of PFAS in its waterproof mascaras—and its representations that the products are safe, effective and high-quality—has caused consumers to purchase more of and pay more for the items than they otherwise would have.
According to the complaint, a June 2021 study performed by researchers at Notre Dame analyzed 231 cosmetic products to determine the presence of fluorine, which is an indicator of the presence of PFAS. Per the case, the researchers concluded that PFAS were most commonly found in foundations, mascaras and lip products and that “very few” of the items’ labels disclosed that the substances were present.
After reviewing the Notre Dame study, the plaintiff, a California resident, had several L’Oréal products tested by an independent laboratory to determine whether they contained PFAS, the complaint states. Per the suit, the third-party testing revealed that PFAS were present in the waterproof mascara products highlighted above.
The plaintiff claims that she was misled both by L’Oréal’s failure to disclose the presence of PFAS on product labels and the cosmetics giant’s representations that its products were safe and high-quality. According to the case, the labels of the waterproof mascaras at issue state that the products are “ophthalmologist and allergy tested,” “[s]uitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers,” and similar variations of those statements.
The lawsuit alleges that those who purchased the defendant’s products suffered “financial losses” by paying premium prices for cosmetics that failed to live up to their label claims.
The case looks to cover anyone in California who purchased the L’Oréal or Maybelline waterproof mascara products mentioned above from 2018 to the present.
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