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The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

The Story of Cosmetics

The U. S. cosmetics industry is all riled up.  I wonder why they don’t like the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010?  And, they really don’t like Annie Leonard’s terrific video The Story of Cosmetics.

In fact, the Personal Care Products Council has even issued a statement calling the video a “repugnant and absurd…shockumentary.”

Obviously, the video is not to be missed!

Just click on the link above to hear all about the lead in your lipstick, petrochemicals in your shampoo, and the phthalates in perfume and fragrance.

Yes, hundreds of chemicals in the cosmetics and personal care products you and I use every single day.  Neurotoxins, carcinogens, hormone disrupters, and more as explained by the Environmental Working Group:

“According to EWG’s research, 22 percent of all personal care products, including children’s products, may contain a cancer-causing ingredient, 1,4-Dioxane, and 60 percent of sunscreens contain oxybenzone, a potential hormone disruptor. Other studies have raised alarms about lead in lipstick, secret chemicals in fragrance and preservatives in personal care products.”

Now this is not news to me because I know a number of people who have varioius physical reactions when exposed to the chemicals in cosmetics, fragrance, and cleaning products ranging from mild to severe.  Some  have even developed serious multiple chemical sensitivity or environmental illness.

The numbers are adding up and the medical establishment can no longer blow off chemical sensitivity as psychogenic.  In fact, there’s now scientific research tracing the causes of chemical sensitivity to toxic chemicals.  Furthermore, women are up in arms about the dramatic rise in chronic disease among children and the explosion of allergies and asthma in the young.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 (HR 5786) in a nutshell

According to the Story of Stuff blog,

“The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 also would require all ingredients in a cosmetic product to be listed on the product’s label and would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services two years to develop a list of prohibited or restricted ingredients.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics says:

“The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky with Rep. Edward Markey and Rep. Tammy Baldwin, is a huge moment for consumers, parents and environmental health advocates: for the first time in 70 years, we have a real chance to pass national legislation that would eliminate harmful chemicals from the products women, men and children put on their bodies every day.”

Everyone’s talking about the Story of Cosmetics

Everyone’s talking about Annie Leonard’s video, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, and their own problems with the unnatural ingredients in cosmetics.

Lead in lipstick!

Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish recounts the effects of sitting next to the wrong person on an airplane.

“Flying home from Maryland on Saturday, I sat next to a really cute guy. Unfortunately, the plane was completely full, so I couldn’t switch seats to get away from him. Well, not him. He was cute. But his Axe cologne, or whatever heinous product he was wearing, made my eyes water, nose itch, throat close up, and left me with a throbbing headache.

I reached for a handkerchief to cover my nose, but sadly my very helpful dad had tossed in a Bounce dryer sheet when he did my laundry, and my hanky just made me sneeze even more.”

This could suddenly happen to you one day, too.  As Beth goes on to explain, you become more and more sensitized with repeated exposure to environmental chemicals like those found in your everyday personal care and cleaning products.  One day, you just wake up and start sneezing when you pick up a pile of laundry washed in standard detergent and fabric softener.  The symptoms can then multiply like wildfire. While some people develop acute and chronic reactions to the toxic chemicals themselves, others may never know that these same noxious toxins contributed to the onset of cancer, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, or another disorder.

Petrol Essences

At Upcycled Love, Lynn Fang, scientist by day and blogger by night, describes her personal investigation into toxins in her personal care items starting with the sodium lauryl sulfate (a major skin irritant) and parabens (which have estrogen-like effects) in her shampoo and conditioner. Lynn offers two important tips for becoming a smarter shopping in the cosmetics and personal care department.  She also lists non-toxic alternatives in her article.

What can you do?

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 presents an unprecedented opportunity to speak out for safe ingredients in your cosmetics and personal care products.  For your own safety and the safety of your children, please consider taking the following steps.

1. Educate yourself and your family.

  • Learn about the effects of toxins in our everyday products on children at Healthy Child, Healthy World.
  • Watch The Story of Cosmetics video by Annie Leonard (link above) and follow The Story of Stuff blog.
  • Watch The Story Behind Cosmetics by the Environmental Working Group (different video, same topic) and read the Environmental Working Group’s blog to stay abreast of the most potent news about environmental toxins and public health.
  • Visit Fake Plastic Fish and Upcycled Love (links above) to read about what ordinary women like you and me are finding out about their cosmetics and what they’re doing about it.

2. Vote with your dollars. Use the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Data Base to evaluate the safety of a cosmetic or personal care product product before you purchase it. Refuse popular products like Herbal Essences and Pantene Pro that contain potentially dangerous chemicals.

3. Support the Cosmetics Safety Act of 2010. Let Congress know that you support the Cosmetics Safety Act of 2010. Visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website to sign a letter to your Member of Congress. Make sure your voice is heard.

4.  Share the links. Share the links to the two videos—the Story of Cosmetics and the Story Behind Cosmetics—via your social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  Thanks to people like you and me, more than 50,000 people viewed the Story of Cosmetics on July 21 alone. Let’s keep the ball rolling.

5. Blog about it. If you have a blog, blog about the potential dangers contained in our personal care products, the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, and share the links in this article.

6. Throw a Story of Cosmetics and the Story Behind Cosmetics Viewing Party and dialogue with your friends.

I’m very excited about this monumental step forward to raise public awareness about the dangers of environmental chemicals in our everyday products. Thank you to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. Thank you to all the audacious women who are getting the cosmetic industry all riled up.

As Annie Leonard says, “Toxins In, Toxins Out.” Together, we can help take toxic chemicals off the shelf.

What do you think about toxic chemicals in cosmetics?

If you liked this article, please share the link.  Thank you!  Sandra



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  1. Sandra, thanks so much for the mention! It’s great to see people blogging about this issue!

    I sort of wish there was more I could do other than just talk about it – letters to the editor and op-eds are generally a long-shot, especially since my newspapers serve the greater Bay Area. Sending my senators a quick Internet message will get tallied by a staff member I assume. I suppose it’s all about the numbers – the greater number of people trying to send a message to the senate? In any case, I’ll still be talking about it =]

    • Sandra Lee

      Hi Lynn, I agree. I wish there was more I could do too. It will be interesting to see how the bill evolves. The main thing is that it’s an important first step and will get people talking and more aware. I’m glad you will still be talking about because I think we all need to dedicate ourselves to keeping the issue alive. All the best to you.

  2. Sandra I started using all natural products from health food stores and mineral make up and essential oils instead of perfume mostly a few years ago so I think it’s at least a better direction. My lipsticks from Aveda are so natural that they told me I can eat it and I don’t see any ingredients mentioned in this scary video in my products but alas, it is hard to resist everything and yet wonderful to be aware. THANK YOU for your post!!! I’ll read ingredients even more often!

    • Sandra Lee

      Farnoosh, Thanks for sharing your resources for more natural cosmetics. It sounds like the Aveda lipstick could double as a part of a survival kit if it’s so pure it can be eaten too!!!! 🙂 All my love to you.

  3. Thanks for the great article! I just wrote a post on Skin Deep and I am going to share your post as a great follow-up. All of your suggestions are wonderful.

    • Sandra Lee

      Welcome Lori,

      Thanks so much for commenting. I will definitely be reading your post about the Skin Deep Date Base on Groovy Green Livin. I really appreciate your commitment to green living and helping others make the transition. I wish you great success.

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