Warnings Increase Concerns About Conventional Beauty Brands
The French have it all, doesn’t it seem? Great cheese (and the metabolism to eat it), a way with scarves, and beauty products with significantly less chemicals than in North America.
Although US Food and Drug Association (FDA) was set up to regulate cosmetic products and their ingredients in 1938, the cosmetic provisions have been amended just three times since then. Currently in the US, only 11 chemicals are either restricted or banned due to safety concerns. Compare that to Canada or Japan’s 600 or France’s 1328 – to be fair, the entire European Union (EU) has banned 1300+ chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects.
Even though Europeans are ahead of other countries in protecting consumers, earlier this week French Consumer Group UFC-Que Choisir warned consumers to stay away from 185 products (from brands like L’Oreal, Adidas, Playboy, Head & Shoulders, Garnier, Colgate and Axe) citing they contained substances that were legal, but could cause allergies, irritations or endocrinal disorders.
Olivier Andrault, who ran the study for UFC-Que Choisir, told Reuters “In light of the absence of suitable European regulation, we want to put pressure on manufacturers through consumers’ purchasing behavior.”
Reuters went on to report “the study pointed, for example, to eight brands of baby wipes including L’Oreal’s Bebe Cadum and Mixa, Beiersdorf’s Nivea and Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Pampers that contain phenoxyethanol, which it said could be toxic for the blood and liver.”
Other findings included that at least 101 products contain endocrine disruptors, and of those, 44 have a UV filter that can disturb thyroid function and estrogen production. WWD reported France’s Fédération des Entreprises de la Beauté published a statement citing its director of scientific and regulatory affairs, Anne Dux, as saying: “There is no concern regarding the use of cosmetics products on the French market.”
WWD also shared L’Oréal’s statement: “L’Oréal is committed to the security of all its cosmetics products. Our system of evaluating safety is very robust, and all of our products and our ingredients have been rigorously evaluated before being put on to the market, always in full conformity with the applicable regulation.”
This might not be a reason for concern if it was not also the week that America giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Missouri state jury to pay $72 million of damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of the company’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for several decades.
Jere Beasley, a lawyer for the plaintiff, said Johnson & Johnson “knew as far back as the 1980s of the risk,” and yet resorted to “lying to the public, lying to the regulatory agencies.” He spoke to Reuters.
At the trial, Dr. Daniel Cramer, Director of the OB/GYN Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and an expert who testified for the plaintiff, said he conducted his own study that shows an increased risk of ovarian cancer with talcum powder use. Also introduced into evidence a September 1997 internal letter from a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant suggesting that denying the risks could mean that “… the talc industry will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
What does all of this mean for you? You can wait until the evidence is undeniable, that certain chemicals in personal care and beauty products are reason for concern or you can start researching and arm yourself with knowledge. Some of our favorite resources:
- Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
- Environmental Defence
- EWG’s Skin Deep® Cosmetic Database
- Silent Spring Institute
- David Suzuki Foundation
And, of course, the #Magnifecobook, Magnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-Toxic Beauty.