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Choose Safe Cosmetics

Beauty should be more than skin deep. Be aware of toxic chemicals that may be in your cosmetics and personal care products.



Annie Leonard
Annie Leonard

As the writer and host of The Story of Stuff, Annie has inspired millions to work toward a sustainable future.

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The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

When it comes to beauty products, the effects of the ingredients they contain are more than just skin deep.

In fact, shampoos, makeup, lotions, perfumes and other cosmetics for sale today can contain ingredients linked to breast cancer, infertility, birth defects and other serious health problems. That's why the Breast Cancer Fund is a leader in advocacy efforts to get toxic chemicals out of cosmetics.

As a founding member and sponsor of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Breast Cancer Fund is committed to eliminating toxic chemicals from personal care products including soaps, lotions, lipsticks, mascara, and even some baby shampoos.

The reason: the cosmetics industry uses thousands of synthetic chemicals as ingredients, even those linked to cancer, infertility and birth defects.

Every day, women use as many as 12 products containing 168 chemicals and men use an average of six products. Teens use even more. But lax laws and a lack of information means you and millions of Americans are in the dark about the safety of personal care products we use on our bodies.

Carcinogens have no place in cosmetics and personal care products. Yet the United States government does not systematically assess the safety of personal care products. In fact, the U.S. lags behind other countries in cosmetic safety, allowing hazardous chemicals that are banned in Canada, Japan and Europe. Just 11 of more than 12,000 ingredients used in cosmetics are restricted for use in the U.S., yet more than 1,300 chemicals have been prohibited in cosmetics sold in Europe.

The law governing cosmetics was passed in 1938 and has been updated only once since then. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has limited authority to regulate cosmetics; essentially the cosmetics industry regulates itself. As a result, it’s difficult or nearly impossible to learn all the chemical ingredients used to make cosmetics and personal care products we apply to our skin.

Which chemicals in cosmetics are linked to breast cancer?

That's why U.S Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 (H.R. 1385) in March 2013. The Safe Cosmetics Act would be groundbreaking, written to:

  • Strengthen FDA oversight and regulation of the $70 billion cosmetics industry
  • Phase out ingredients linked to cancer, infertility and developmental problems
  • Create a safety standard that protects workers, babies and other vulnerable populations
  • Require full disclosure of ingredients so consumers can make informed choices
  • Give the FDA authority to recall dangerous products

Bottom line: the Safe Cosmetics Act gives us a real chance to pass national legislation that would eliminate harmful chemicals from the personal care products that women, men and children put on their bodies every day.

There's growing momentum for this change. After a multi-year campaign against Johnson & Johnson to get the company to eliminate toxic formaldehyde from its iconic baby shampoo, the company agreed to reformulate its entire baby and adult lines of products. Retailers including Walmart and Target have developed policies to replace dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives.

The marketplace is changing but the law governing cosmetics is stuck in the last century.

To keep up the pressure for change, Congress needs to hear from us!