On January 30, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) announced that use of PFAS in cosmetics would be prohibited from December 2026.
According to the EPA, it publicly consulted on the rule changes in 2023 and received 20 submissions, including 14 from the cosmetics industry.
This included the local trade association, Cosmetics New Zealand (Cosmetics NZ).
“We submitted that we wanted the originally proposed date pushed out to more align with a similar ban coming forward from the EU. We were successful in moving that timeframe out and as such we are happy with the ban,” said Garth Wyllie, technical executive director, of Cosmetics NZ.
With the date pushed back, it is not expected to have a significant impact as most companies are already reformulating their products in anticipation of similar bans in the EU as well as California, US.
“We liaise with our sister organisations who share the timing of this ban with their membership and so we believe the industry will be well-aware and able to plan to meet the timing,” said Wyllie.
“This is particularly so since existing proposals for a ban in the EU are moving forward and while they may come into effect outside of our timing, we do not believe there will be a significant implementation difference.”
The decision to prohibit PFAS in cosmetics is one of the several revisions made to the Cosmetic Products Group Standard. The goal was to enhance the safety of cosmetic products and align the regulations more closely with international advancements.
The agency had previously proposed to ban the use of all PFAS in cosmetics from 31 December 2025.
Banning or regulating PFAS has become a significant environmental and public health concern due to their persistence in the environment, bioaccumulation in living organisms, and potential adverse health effects.
The EPA had already announced that it would completely ban PFAS in firefighting foams from December 2025 onwards.
“We know these chemicals don’t easily break down, they can build up in our bodies, and some can be toxic at high levels,” said Dr Shaun Presow, hazardous substances reassessments manager, EPA.
In cosmetics, PFAS are sometimes used to improve product spreadability and water resistance, for instance.
Overall, Wyllie does not expect this ban to have much effect on the local industry.
“There are very few products made in New Zealand that would contain PFAS so domestic manufacturing and brands will be unaffected. In terms of numbers, we have no exact fix on how prevalent PFAS is, but we believe the numbers to be very low already.”
He added that this will mostly impact imported cosmetics.
“However, given the timing now moving back we do not see this as being a significant impact as most companies will be reformulating ahead of the EU ban and the existing Californian ban.”
Wyllie concluded: “We will continue to advise both member companies and our sister organisations and also maintain our ongoing discussions with the EPA around timing and enforcement.”