What is it?

“Arsenic is a chemical element with symbol As and atomic number 33.” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Canada has prohibited the metal as an ingredient in cosmetics. It’s synonyms, salts and related compounds, must not be present in cosmetic products at all times.

Arsenic and its compounds are prohibited by by CosIng, the European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients, for use in cosmetics in the European Union.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identifies that the metal/substance “is toxic if swallowed, is toxic if inhaled, is very toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund) has Red Listed* arsenic. They have identified the metal as a known carcinogen, developmental toxicant, and causing endocrine disruption.

Possible contamination

The following substances may contain impurities from arsenic:

  • Hydrogenated cottonseed oil
  • Polyvinyl acetate

* “The Red List includes chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The list also flags chemicals that are banned or have use restrictions by the U.S. or other world governments, ingredients that adversely impact worker health, and ingredients that are widely used in products marketed to women of color.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

How is it used?

Arsenic is mainly used in car batteries and ammunition, but the metal can also be found as a color additive in cosmetic products*.

Sometimes a product could be contaminated by metals even if it’s not listed in the ingredients. Ingredients derived from plant sources, such as hydrogenated cottonseed oil and polyvinyl acetate may contain arsenic.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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Read about the other ingredients.