Make-up safety isn’t something most women think about. American consumers are accustomed to products being tested for safety and effectiveness before they are allowed on the market. What many women don’t know is that there is no regulatory body that monitors cosmetic ingredients. Cosmetics aren’t made to be ingested, and they do not claim to alter body chemistry, so most beauty products fall outside of the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration.
In What Makes Up Your Makeup? Know What’s on Your Face, I listed common make-up ingredients and some of their harmful side effects. But knowing what’s in your make-up is only half the battle. Because harmful ingredients are so common, it can be difficult to find healthy make-up. That’s where the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics comes in.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics was founded in 2002 to keep the media and the public informed on the dangers of phthalates, which was found in nearly 75% of the 72 name brands tested. As a result of the “Pretty Nasty” campaign in 2003, the European Union passed an amendment that prohibited the use of known or suspected toxins in all cosmetic products.
The newest focus of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Over 500 companies have signed the compact, promising to eliminate all toxic substances from their cosmetics and beauty care products and find safe alternatives to carcinogens. Companies that have signed the compact include Burt’s Bees from North Carolina, tweenBeauty, Iredale Mineral Cosmetics and Kiss My Face. More notable than the companies on the list are the companies that are conspicuously absent.
L’Oreal, Revlon, Unilever and Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Cover Girl, and Estee Lauder have all refused to sign the compact. The companies do admit that the substances in their products have been shown to cause cancer and birth defects, but claim that they are present in such small amounts that they pose no danger to consumers.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics counters that the cumulative exposure through cosmetics, deodorants, soaps, shampoos and lotions is harmful. To back up their claims, they point to a rising incidence of many types of cancer, including breast cancer.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics have recorded some successes. OPI, the nation’s largest professional nail polish company, has agreed to remove toluene, a known carcinogen, from its nail polishes. The nail polish is still formulated with formaldehyde, but OPI said it was looking for an alternative.
If you are concerned about the effects of toxins in cosmetics, you can check out the Compact for Safe Makeup for a list of companies that produce healthy cosmetic products.