The Story of Cosmetics: Sometimes the Truth Hurts . . .

Last week was a busy week in the world of cosmetics and personal care products! It started with the introduction in Congress of a new bill: The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. This ground-breaking legislation proposes an overhaul of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, giving the FDA the authority and resources it needs to ensure that cosmetics and personal care products do not contain ingredients linked to adverse health effects.

Coinciding with the introduction of this legislation, the Safe Cosmetics Campaign (who was instrumental in pushing this through) released a new video called “The Story of Cosmetics” –a sequel of sorts to Annie Leonard’s 2007 widely viewed and critically acclaimed video “The Story of Stuff.” This is a clever animated video that, like its predecessor, attempts to spell out in the simplest possible way the problems inherent with the status quo –in this case: the way cosmetics manufacturers make products. As you can probably imagine, it’s already rankled the cosmetics industry! I highly recommend it and you can view it below. If this is a subject you want to know more about, I’ll be blogging about it in the coming weeks so stay tuned in to the Aroma Zone.

Much of the work done by the Safe Cosmetics Campaign is based on something called the precautionary principle, which basically encapsulates the essence of the phrase “better safe than sorry.” In other words, if there’s no scientific consensus that an action or policy suspected of being harmful to people or the environment is not harmful, the burden lies with those who want to carry it out to prove otherwise.

There are more interesting “story of” videos at The Story of Stuff Project web site.

Comments

  1. I think it’s important to remember that not only did this all begin based on the 1950s mindset, as is stated at the 4 min 47 second mark, but so too are the test methods we use to evaluate these chemicals.

    The larger problem we are facing is that we have “tested” and deemed “safe” tens of thousands of chemicals on animals only to find that the some results are not accurate. It’s time to use human-relevant non-animal testing practices as outlined by the National Academy of Sciences report, “Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy in 2007.”

    The potential for chemical reform is quite exciting, but it should be done in a way that doesn’t sacrifice millions of animals (for toxicity testing) in the name of better protection for human health and the environment. We need Congress to mandate and create market incentives to use nonanimal methods and tests.

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