A Survivor Fights the Cosmetics Companies
When Kristi Marsh, of Massachusetts, discovered a lump and got a diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 36, she set out on a mission to reduce harmful chemicals in her life. She joined forces with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. She read voraciously, researched, eliminated toxic products and replaced them with products with ‘kinder, simpler, ingredients’ and generally fought the anti-toxin war for herself, her three young children and the mainstream world. Women got the message to buy make-up only from organic make-up stores.
Her focus was to spread the word about the lack of safety in cosmetic ingredients, to make environmental health an 'everyday topic among mainstream women’. She established workshops, speaks across the country and has even testified about BPA to the Massachusettes Department of Public Health. In her website, ‘Choose Wiser’, she shares her passion for her personal Campaign for Safe Cosmetics with others.
Learning from Kristi and many others like her, ex-victims of the toxic world created by the cosmetics companies, we can reduce the harm caused to us and to our precious earth.
Why We Must Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a non-profit coalition formed in 2002. It aims to protect the health and safety of consumers and of workers in the beauty industry, simultaneously fostering a vibrant, green economy. Safeguarding our environment creates new opportunities for sustainable industries.
The Campaign lobbies manufacturers of health and beauty products to stop using cosmetic ingredients known to be linked to cancer and other health problems. These ingredients could be replaced with safe botanicals and minerals. As of 2011, the Campaign for safe Cosmetics has named 335 companies Champions of the cause.
This means they have met the standards of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, an international pledge to refrain from adding carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxins and other chemicals to cosmetics. The pledge obliges manufacturers to fully disclose to consumers all ingredients used. Over 1000 companies have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics to date.
What is in beauty and personal care products?
How many of us are aware that most of the ingredients listed on the labels of the products we use could make us very sick. Many chemicals are used, such as parabens, petroleum, formaldehyde, sodium lauryl sulphate and a host of others. They are found in the conditioners, lipsticks, facial washes and other cosmetics and personal care products we use daily. Safe cosmetics are difficult to find. Even baby shampoo, used by our most vulnerable, contains phthalates, a chemical not often listed as an ingredient.
The devastation caused by toxic chemicals
These substances are potent neurotoxins, carcinogens, skin irritants and allergans. They also damage our environment. When washed into our water supply they poison water life and ultimately, our food chain. The waste from the cosmetics we throw away have been found in animals and it has caused mutation, sterility, death and decimation in the animal population, which is an important part of our eco-system. We kill with our careless use of toxic chemicals in many industries besides cosmetics.
It is vital that we continue to campaign for safe cosmetics. By buying only organic makeup and personal care products, we can help save our children from multiple toxicities. Most cosmetic companies continue to use toxic chemicals proven to cause so many abominable diseases. Why?
No FDA Oversight
The FDA does not regulate, review nor approve cosmetics and their ingredients before they are sold. Major loopholes in federal law allows the industry to add unlimited amounts of chemicals to their cosmetics and cannot require their safety testing. There is really no reason or excuse for this lack of action by the FDA. Of course, we are all aware of the money passed to lawmakers to keep them in power.
The European Union, some years ago, passed the ‘Cosmetics Directive’ banning 1100 chemicals from use in cosmetics. Their cosmetics, sold worldwide, continue to make tremendous profits. In the USA, only 10 chemicals are banned, even though it is proven that cosmetics will continue to make huge profits with zero toxic chemicals. Are we a lesser people than the Europeans? Where does the accountability start?
The industry keeps publishing laboratory results to prove the safety of the chemicals they use. But they are from research funded by themselves! They are a $50 billion industry and they work hard to make sure they stay unregulated!
According to reports of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the typical American woman uses 12 personal care products every day. These expose her to about 120 different chemicals and their toxicities. A man typically uses 6, and even children could use several. Sadly, cosmetic companies do not list all the ingredients that go in their products. They are not held accountable for informing consumers about the possible harmful effects of using their cosmetics.
Support the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
The problem of cosmetics safety may seem daunting. But there are ways in which you can help the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and protect your own health. First, spread awareness. Let your family and friends know what you have learned. Spread the message about important topics like phthalates, endocrine disruptors and BPA and so on.
Second, be more selective of your purchases. Check labels. Learn about the harmful ingredients you should look out for and avoid, like lead in lipstick, for ‘no amount of lead exposure appears to be safe’ - Dr. Bellinger, Harvard Medical School. 2008.
Third, support companies that have high standards of cosmetic safety. Buy only their products and promote them to family and friends. Use your purchasing power to force cosmetic companies into compliance with health and safety standards. Only then will the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics be successful in safeguarding you.
Safe Cosmetics Business Network
If you are in the beauty business, learn how you can get involved in growing the market for safe products and providing good choices for consumers. Manufacturers, retailers, salons, makeup artists and other professionals in the health and beauty industry can play important roles.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics works with hundreds of forward thinking companies, endorsing organisations and thousands of individuals to change the mindset of the cosmetics companies and state and federal lawmakers so they embrace safety in cosmetic and personal care products.
Johnson and Johnson is one company that has signed to be guided by the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. This old and trusted company is a beacon in the darkness, and other cosmetics companies should follow its lead if they do no want to be left in the dust, for, according to research company Organic Monitor, 'trends in natural and organic cosmetics are going the same way as the organic food market, with sales continuing to rise each year'. Large and small cosmetic manufacturers are rolling out natural and organic cosmetics to appease consumer demands for environmentally-friendly products.
Many responsible cosmetics companies agree that safe is beautiful and are setting a high standard in the marketplace by agreeing not to use toxic chemicals in their products.
Demand Safe Cosmetics from Avon, Estee Lauder et al
Avon is one of the largest and most popular (so far) cosmetics manufacturers in the world. It is the organiser of the Annual Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness. It claims it is ‘in it to end it’. Yet it uses chemicals linked to breast cancer, hormone disruption and other diseases that impact women’s health : chemicals like parabens, triclosan and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.
Estee Lauder’s cosmetics go on some of the most beautiful, expensive women in the world, because, simply, the makeup is gorgeous. The company sponsors the Breast Cancer Awareness Month every year, and its website asks for donations towards research and awareness of breast cancer. Yet, how many people know that cancer-causing ingredients are used in the Estee Lauder cosmetics and personal care products?
Some Organic Makeup Brands
To do your part in forcing cosmetic companies to produce safe products, buy organic. There are many of these, for remember, over 1000 companies have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. My favorite brand is Yves Rocher, whose products are botanical, use no harmful chemicals, and are not tested on animals. And feel wonderful on the skin! Other well-known brands are Burt's Bees, Organic Make-up Company, Lavera and Ecco Bello. You can find them all online.
Organic cosmetics products are sold by trusted companies like Amazon, Sephora, L’Occitane etc. I buy mine online from Amazon, which sells so many lines and most of their prices, I found, are comparable to and often even lower than, other retailers.
Organic makeup can be even more affordable than the conventional type, and that's another incentive to buy organic. Go, be beautiful and safe!