You Just Think You’re Safe
The labels of most cosmetic and personal care products are littered with chemical ingredients that we can’t pronounce. And we sure don’t know what they are. These synthetic chemicals serve a variety of purposes, from creating the suds in our soaps to the creaminess of our creams. They have become so widespread and commonplace that most of us no longer question their being included in our everyday cosmetic products.
But are these chemicals really safe? Do they even do what we expect them to do when we put them on our face, or in our hair, or on the skin on our body?
We’ve been conditioned to just accept that if it’s on supermarket shelves, it must be safe. After all there must be someone who’s checking all this out, right?
Don’t Rely only on the FDA
Many of the ingredients in cosmetics could potentially cause life-
“FDA's legal authority over cosmetics is different from our authority over other products we regulate, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Under the law, cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA pre-
So when you look at the products on supermarket shelves, don’t look at them with the expectation that the government is protecting you and your family from any potentially harmful chemicals.
The Cosmetic Industry Knows the Real Truth
Beginning in the 1960’s, many organizations and individuals became concerned about the chemicals contained in the cosmetics and other products which we put on our skin every day. In the early 1970’s the cosmetic industry began realizing that if they didn’t start resisting these efforts, then they would be subjected to more government regulation. As their own lobby website stated, it was at this time that they began their effort to “convince regulatory agencies and consumer groups that the industry's commitment to product safety and self-
This effort to convince the government that they could regulate themselves was led by the Personal Care Products Association (PCPA), which is the lobbying group funded and formed by the cosmetic industry. This group has worked hard to keep people from knowing what is going on. In 2005, forces for safer cosmetics won a victory with the passage of the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005.
This law required companies to report to the state the usage of any ingredients in cosmetics which were linked to cancer. You would think that if there is no danger in your cosmetics, then their manufacturers would have no problem complying with this. But the cosmetic industry “vigorously opposed the bill, mounting a major campaign to convince salon owners and workers that they would be shut down if the new law passed.”
In fact, Proctor and Gamble and the PCPA spent more than $690,000 together to lobby in opposition to this bill.
While the passage of the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005 was a big victory for those who wanted more information for consumers, it was only one victory on the state level. At the national level, the decades-
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