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Revlon Under Fire for Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Makeup

Women’s and Breast Cancer Groups Join Forces to Demand Revlon Stop Putting Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Cosmetics

For Immediate Release: October 25, 2013
Contact: Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699,, or or Molly Haigh, 907-750-1999,

SAN FRANCISCO – Revlon is under fire today for selling makeup laced with cancer-causing chemicals to the public, all while marketing themselves as a company fighting breast cancer. The Breast Cancer Fund and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics teamed up with online women’s group UltraViolet today to demand the company drop these and other dangerous chemicals from its products.

See the petition to Revlon here.

See the letter-writing campaign to Revlon here.

“The most significant thing Revlon can do to prevent women’s cancers is to eliminate cancer-causing chemicals from its cosmetics, which are used by millions of women and girls every day,” said Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy for the Breast Cancer Fund and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

“Revlon is putting cancer-causing chemicals in makeup, and that is shameful,” said Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet. “If soaring rates of cancer in young women aren't enough to make Revlon change their mind about lacing their products with toxic chemicals, hopefully outrage from their consumers will be. We demand Revlon take a stand against cancer and drop these chemicals from their products immediately.”

The groups are planning a full campaign against Revlon in the coming weeks to include calls, online pressure, advertisements and in-person events.

The groups are specifically demanding that Revlon:

1. Develop a comprehensive “safe cosmetics policy” to protect women from chemicals linked to cancer and other adverse health effects.
2. Support federal cosmetics safety legislation.
3. Share the Revlon product safety policy publicly on the company’s website.

Revlon products sold in stores contained the following cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting chemicals, according to a survey by the Breast Cancer Fund and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:
-    Butylated compounds ( BHA , BHT): Found in hair dyes and lip gloss; linked to cancer *
-    Quaternium-15: and other formaldehyde-releasing chemicals: Found in mascaras, pressed powders and eyeliner; linked to cancer
-    Parabens: Found in eyeliners and hair dyes; an endocrine disruptor linked to cancer
-    Octinoxate: Found in foundation makeup; an endocrine disruptor linked to thyroid disorders
-    Resorcinol: Found in hair dye; an endocrine disruptor and allergen
-    p-Phenylenediamine: Found in hair dye; a respiratory toxicant
-    Carbon black: Found in eyeliners; linked to cancer

See the full survey here.

Federal law governing the use and disclosure of cosmetics ingredients—which was adopted more than 75 years ago —is outdated and weak, leaving decisions about toxic chemicals in makeup to the industry itself. Under current law, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cannot require cosmetics companies to conduct safety assessments or pre-market testing, and cannot require product recalls.

The Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013, introduced in the House of Representatives by Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and now-Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) would revamp the law and give the FDA the authority it needs to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients. Until then, consumer groups involved in this campaign intend to continue to pressure Revlon to protect women immediately by voluntarily removing toxic chemicals.

* CORRECTION made on 11/4/13: The original press release stated that BHA was found in Revlon products. While lists BHA as an ingredient in several Revlon products, subsequent research failed to find BHA on product ingredient labels.


The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition led by the Breast Cancer Fund, Women’s Voices for the Earth, and Clean Water Action with more than 175 nonprofit organizations working to protect the health of consumers and workers by eliminating dangerous chemicals from cosmetics. Find out more at:

The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. Find out more at:

UltraViolet is an online community of over 500,000 women and men who want to take collective action to expose and fight sexism in the public sector, private sector and the media. Find out more at: