Feeling Beautiful (and Safe) Inside and Out
August 11, 2009
By Guest Blogger
People deserve to feel beautiful, inside and out. Feeling good about how you look increases confidence, thereby creating opportunities which can lead to constructive change, more energy, and even a more vibrant community. And then you feel even better, and the cycle continues.
To make yourself look/smell/feel lovely, you probably use cosmetics (creams, makeup, deodorant, etc). Most of us do- on average, American women use 10 a day, men use six a day.
But. There is an un-lovely fact that I hope that you’ll share widely: In the U.S. it is legal for the $50 billion cosmetics industry to put unlimited amounts of chemicals into personal care products, including chemicals linked to cancer and hormone disruption. In fact, cosmetics are among the least-regulated products on the market.
A woman using 10 personal care products a day exposes herself to approximately 130 unique chemicals, some of which can be potent even in super-small amounts. As the day goes on, she is probably also exposed to food pesticides, water contaminants (including hormones), air pollution, flame retardants in furniture, and BPA in plastic water containers. These exposures add up.
Some folks say, “Yeah, but so what? We’re all exposed, and we’re all fine.” I wish that were the case. We’re not all fine.
At the same time that unsafe and untested chemicals have been steadily introduced into our environment, learning and behavioral disorders, reproductive problems, and breast cancer incidence have dramatically risen. A growing body of evidence has linked the pollutants and man-made chemicals in our environment to the increasing risk of breast cancer and other diseases. The Breast Cancer Fund, a founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, has a great fact sheet on some of the cosmetics ingredients of concern.
Now listen up, because this is just whack: While the rates of breast cancer rise (beyond what genetics and increased detection can account for), products marketed to women and girls contain carcinogens – including products that we slather on our faces and bodies, paint on our lips and eyelids, and wash with in the shower while our pores are wide open, on a daily basis.
Women with cancer are no different- they want to feel as well and as sexy (crazy-sexy-well, actually) as possible. Knowing this, the American Cancer Society and Personal Care Products Council (the cosmetics industry trade group) joined forces to create Look Good, Feel Better (LGFB), workshops which provide beauty tips and cosmetics for cancer patients. Sounds like a great service, right?
Well, it would be, if the products in the LGFB kits were free of carcinogens, neurotoxins and hormone disruptors, or chemicals even suspected of having these Über-serious effects. Some of the corporate donors for LGFB are companies that not only use dangerous or suspect ingredients, but actively lobby against legislation that would make cosmetics safer for those of us who do not have cancer and would like to avoid getting it, or those of us living with it and trying to look and feel better. (See my colleague Stacy Malkan’s book Not Just A Pretty Face for the scoop on the trade group’s and big companies’ opposition to safer cosmetics legislation.)
The system is clearly broken when we allow carcinogens in products given to cancer patients. And it is simply egregious that some large companies that could make safer products are not doing so, and are instead launching projects like Look Good, Feel Better, and profiting off of pink ribbons.
This really fires me up, and gets me out of bed in the morning to go work for change via the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
The Campaign is a grassroots coalition- and we need you. Got 2 minutes for cancer prevention and corporate accountability? Please join the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics– and help to make cosmetics safe for everyone. Have more time? Great! Contact us and tell us how you’d like to use your voice, your blog, your skills, your company to tell the public, cosmetics companies and elected officials that cancer is not inevitable, hundreds of thousands of cases can be prevented, and we will no longer allow dangerous ingredients in common consumer products like cosmetics.
Mia Davis is the National Grassroots Coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and an all around Toxics Avenger who has worked on getting bisphenol A (BPA) off of store shelves throughout the country. Mia speaks and writes often for the Campaign, and works in collaboration with a diverse network of activists, citizens, health affected communities and scientists. When she’s not organizing to make the world less toxic she enjoys reading, cooking and eating, and the company of her amazing friends, family and creatures. www.safecosmetics.org, and follow Mia on Twitter @nontoxicissexy