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HEALTH

French public warned to avoid ‘toxic lip balms’

Lip balm users have been warned by a leading French consumer group about the dangers of smearing their lips with the product after their tests found that certain balms contained toxic substances.

French public warned to avoid 'toxic lip balms'
Photo: AFP

Half of the 21 products put to the test by UFC Que-choisir were discovered to have potentially harmful ingredients, including lip balms from large cosmetic brands Garnier, La Roche Posay, Carmex, and Le Petit Marseillais. 

The consumer group warned consumers to stay away from the balms which were found to have carcinogenic substances.

Others contained Mosh – mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons – which if swallowed, can make their way into the lymph nodes and liver and inflame them. 

“The level of Mosh (mineral oil saturated hydrocarbons) in these lip balms is extremely undesirable, on account of their toxicity when they are ingested,” the report said

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But there is good news for anyone with chapped lips – the safest, most effective, and hydrating lip balm was found to the cheapest. 

Lidl’s “Cien” branded balm was the cheapest of the bunch priced at just 75 centimes. 

“The enormous price differences aren’t reflected in the results,” said representatives from UFC Que Choisir. 

The lip balms consumers were urged to avoid were:

  • Macadamia lip balm from Yves Rocher 

  • Trésors de miel nourishing lip balm from Garnier Ultra Doux 

  • Original classic care from Labello

  • Classic moisturising lip balm from Carmex 

  • Nultric transforming balm for dry lips from La Roche Posay

  • Homéostick from Boiron

  • Cold cream nourishing balm from Avène

  • Nutrition balm for dry lips from Le petit Marseillais

  • Hydrating lip balm from Aptonia

  • Hydrating lip balm from Uriage

Earlier this year, French authorities promised to investigate 1,000 cosmetic products found to contain illegal and undesirable substances after the consumer group published a similar report. 

By Anna Schaverien

HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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