Dirty Secrets of the Beauty Industry

It was a few short weeks ago that I met up with my online blogging friends at a conference called ShiftCon, to talk about all things related to health, wellness and the environment. It’s about shifting the conversation toward a more sane world where people’s health and the environment matter, where forward thinking brands get the love they deserve and where online friends can hug each other in person.

In partnership with my colleagues Lori Alper and Micaela Preston, we held a workshop called Beauty and the Beast: Navigating the World of Green Beautywhere I shared some of the dirty secrets of the beauty industry. For those of you who couldn’t attend ShiftCon, read on…

Many companies still use harmful ingredients in their products

We’re well into the 21st century, so you would think any outdated practices by the beauty industry would have fizzled out. Unfortunately, that’s not the case; the last time Congress passed a major federal law regulating cosmetic ingredients was in 1938. And as a result, companies can legally use thousands of ingredients that have never been tested for their impacts on human health or the environment. And they do.

Most skin care products contain ingredients that have been linked to hormone-disruption, cancer, infertility, early puberty and other health impacts. I’m not being dramatic about this, some of our country’s leading institutions say so themselves, including: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mount Sinai, the University of California – San Francisco, Tufts and Berkley University, just to name a few.

Selectively labeling ingredients

For those of you who have been paying attention to the issue of harmful ingredients and chemicals in consumer products, you may think that beauty companies have to list ingredients on their products. You would be right, but the problem is this law is not widely ahered to.

Passed in the 1970s, the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, requires that skin care companies list all ingredients outside the “fragrance” loophole. But unfortunately many companies selectively list their ingredients and the Food and Drug Administration currently does not do much about it.

The fragrance loophole is that companies do not need to disclose the ingredients used to make a particular fragrance. And many contain known allergens or hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates. According to the fragrance industry’s trade association, there are over 3,000 chemicals that could make up any particular fragrance and they do not need to be disclosed to the consumer.

Heavy metals in color cosmetics

This is a secret no one is talking about. The company I work for, Beautycounter, is a market leader in screening and testing for heavy metals. Color cosmetics commonly use both natural and synthetic colorants to give a product its beautiful pigment. The average consumer would assume that the natural colorant is safer, because it’s… well…natural. Unfortunately lead and cadmium are natural, highly toxic, and often contaminate color cosmetics (including “natural” brands).

As I’ve outlined in this article, make sure you ask your cosmetics company if they are screening each batch for heavy metals before bringing them to market. You can read more about Beautycounter’s industry changing heavy metal screening here.

So what are we to do?

How to find safe skin care and cosmetic products

GET THE FACTS – Visit the Skin Deep Database to see how your products rank

SHOP FOR SAFER PRODUCTS – For the safest, highest-performing products on the market, try Beautycounter’s skin care and cosmetic line

LEARN HOW TO READ LABELS – Learn more about cosmetic labels and certifications and see which ones are meaningful to you

BE AN AGENT OF CHANGE – If you’re a blogger, writer or online influencer, read about how you can use your voice to shake up the cosmetics industry

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