Burt’s Bees Cosmetics Contain Undisclosed ‘Forever Chemicals’, Class Action Allegations Say

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A proposed class action lawsuit claims that certain Burt’s Bees cosmetic products contain undisclosed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) known to be harmful to humans.

The 42-page lawsuit alleges The Clorox Company and Burt’s Bees Products Company advertised Burt’s Bees All Aflutter Mascara, Burt’s Bees Nourishing Mascara and Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer products, among others, such as “consciously made with ingredients from nature”, “more than 95% of natural origin” and “Kind to Skin & Planet” without notifying buyers that they contain PFAS. The case states that PFAS are known as “eternal chemicals” due to their resistance to breakdown by environmental conditions and have been linked to “a host of health effects” including cancer, liver damage, reduced fertility and an increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.

According to the lawsuit, consumers were misled by defendants’ statements and failure to disclose on product packaging that their cosmetics contain PFAS.

“Defendants state that the products are safe and effective for their intended use, and reasonable consumers expect cosmetic products marketed and sold to be applied to a person’s face and skin, and especially near the eyes and lips, do not contain hazardous man-made chemicals such as PFAS,” the complaint states. “Contrary to defendants’ representations, the products are unsafe because they contain PFAS, which have a negative impact on human health.”

The lawsuit alleges consumers overpaid for Burt’s Bees cosmetics, which include but are not limited to those highlighted above, as the items are either “worthless or below purchase price.” due to the parties’ alleged failure to disclose that the cosmetics are harmful to human health and the environment.

The case indicates that Clorox, which purchased Burt’s Bees in late 2007, and Burt’s Bees Products Company have spent years building a strong reputation of trust with consumers. Additionally, the Burt’s Bees website states that the company’s products are formulated without “phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and other chemicals of concern,” the combination points out.

However, independent testing of Burt’s Bees All Aflutter Mascara, Nourishing Mascara and Lip Shimmer products showed the items to contain high levels of organic fluoride, a “marker of PFAS,” according to the complaint.

According to the case, a June 2021 study titled “Fluorinated Compounds in North American Cosmetics” found that a surprisingly high number of cosmetic products contained high concentrations of fluoride, indicating that PFAS were “likely present” in the items. Following the publication of this study, the “green” product investigation organization Mamavation carried out their own tests of cosmetic products marketed as eco-friendly, eco-friendly and made with natural ingredients. According to the lawsuit, more than 30 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride was considered “high exposure” by Mamavation. Of the defendants’ products at issue, All Aflutter Mascara and Nourishing Mascara each contained 357 ppm organic fluoride, while the Lip Shimmer contained 36 ppm organic fluoride, the case attests.

The lawsuit says exposure to PFAS through the skin, such as through the application of cosmetics, is “very concerning” and could cause PFAS to build up in a person’s body over time, which could have adverse health effects. According to the lawsuit, the danger of PFAS exposure is “well known” and can cause a variety of harms ranging from damage to a person’s immune system and reproductive health to several types of cancer.

The case claims that those who purchased Burt’s Bees products lost the benefit of their market because the items are “worthless” and “unsuitable for human use”.

The lawsuit appears to represent anyone in the United States who purchased Burt’s Bees cosmetics containing PFAS, including All Aflutter Mascara, Nourishing Mascara and Lip Shimmer products, within the applicable statute of limitations.

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