Makeup Company Threatens to Sue Public Health Advocacy Group

Chemicals in cosmetics that have been linked to breast cancer are triggering a war of words between breast-cancer advocates and Revlon executives.

November 1, 2013

Not so pretty: Cosmetics are chock full of chemicals suspected of causing breast cancer.

Two nonprofits focused on getting potentially cancer-causing ingredients out of consumer products say a popular cosmetics company is threatening to sue.


The Breast Cancer Fund and UltraViolet, a national women's advocacy organization, say Revlon has threatened legal action after a coalition of breast cancer survivors and public health advocates launched a campaign urging Revlon to get toxic ingredients out of its makeup.

"Here's our message to Revlon: No amount of bullying is going to make us stop advocating on behalf of the millions of people who want and deserve safe cosmetics," says Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund and cofounder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "Step up and become a leader by taking dangerous chemicals that harm women's health out of your makeup and hair dyes.

"At a time when Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Target, and Walmart are cleaning up the beauty aisle by eliminating toxic chemicals, Revlon is like a dinosaur frozen in time in a changing world," she adds.

Breast cancer is affecting a growing number of women, and although survival rates are steadily rising, many scientists are finding a connection between the disease and exposure to everyday chemicals. The Breast Cancer Fund and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found a number of cancer-causing ingredients in Revlon products, including parabens and chemicals that release formaldehyde. These ingredients are found in mascaras, face creams, hair dyes, and other products.

Revlon did not respond to a Rodale News request to comment.

To check out the petition urging Revlon to clean up its ingredients lists, click here.

"Women shouldn't have to worry about cancer when they apply their makeup in the morning," says Shaunna Thomas, cofounder of UltraViolet. "Young women developing cancer in record numbers should be enough for Revlon to stop lacing its products with toxic chemicals, but instead, the company is fighting back against its customers and trying to silence criticism of the chemicals found in its products. No one deserves to increase their cancer risk from using makeup, and we demand Revlon join us in taking a stand and immediately drop these chemicals from its products."