What’s On Your Face? The Story Of Cosmetics

Cosmetics as per the Encarta World English dictionary means “a beautifying substance – a preparation that is applied to the face or the body to make it more attractive”. Cosmetics are used by billions of people world over in some form or another from a lipstick to nail polish or an eyeliner it covers a varied group of products used by mostly women to enhance their beauty. In the old world cultures there has always been use of “cosmetics” to beautify the people irrespective of sex and age, all of those products were derived from natural products like Mud, Powdered grain, Flowers, seeds etc…nowadays everything we use comes loaded with chemicals and we really have no idea as to what we are putting on ourselves without really knowing the ingredients.

Yesterday I got an email from Annie Leonard of The Story of Stuff titled “As Screwy as Lead in Lipstick” it announced the release of their new film “The Story of Cosmetics (Watch it Below you will never put on make-up with out a thought again) and also informed about 3 members of Congress introducing the Safe Cosmetic Act of 2010, which would close the gaping holes in the Federal regulation of Personal care products. As soon as the film got out The Personal Care Products Council went so far as to issue a statement calling The Story of Cosmetics a “repugnant and absurd…shockumentary.”

Truly repugnant is the reason behind their reaction: The cosmetics industry doesn’t like all the attention it’s getting:  for years, they’ve been largely left alone to decide what’s safe to put in their products. You know, things like lead in lipstick. Neurotoxins in body spray. Carcinogens in baby wash.

The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 would phase out the most dangerous chemicals, set up a system to assess cosmetic ingredients for safety, require companies to be transparent about what’s in their products, and provide adequate resources for the FDA to do its job.  It will also help small businesses in the cosmetics industry meet the new regulations and spur the development of greener chemicals.

If you think you want to be safe when choosing your cosmetics, if you want more overseeing of the cosmetic industry do your bit head to the site and send an email to your congress man/woman. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD HERE

An overview of the bill can be found here

According to industry reports – The U.S. cosmetic industry is a 35 billion dollar market (US Fed News, 2005). Retail cosmeceutical sales reached over 12.4 billion in 2004, a 5.4% increase from the previous year. This figure is expected to reach 16.5 billion at the retail level in 2010 which reflects a strong 4.8% compound annual growth rate (Packaged Facts: The US Cosmeceuticals Market 2005).

It scares me when I see these kind of expose’s; we kind of take things for granted and believe that normally people would not knowingly harm another person. But every time we take things for granted and there is no real regulation companies cut corners to make the bottom line. Self regulation has not worked until now and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. All they see is the money that comes in and as long as they are not held “Legally” accountable they will continue their ways. It is high time we hold industries responsible for what they sell their clientele, at the least they should be made to specify the chemicals in the cosmetics they sell. I do want to know what I am using, awareness is the first step to making an informed decision. Live Green!

To make safe choices check out Environment Working groups website here


There is active participation from various organizations to promote awareness amongst people and you can find a few of the well written articles here:

Democracy now This article includes a debate sort of between Stacy Malkan, founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and John Bailey, chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council and a spokesperson for the cosmetics industry

AOL News Andrew Schneider writes about the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 today. He says “If passed, it will be the first meaningful effort to give the FDA the teeth, tools and mandate to protect consumers from harmful products that are used by almost everyone.”

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