In the book, we talk a lot about the Personal Care Products Council, the trade organization representing the tens-of-billions-of-dollars cosmetics industry. You should reread the chapter about regulation games for a refresher; it’s juicy, fascinating stuff. Their chief scientist was the man sitting on the couch with us when we were on the Today Show, duking it out.
One of the things the PCPC does is lobby, of course—especially when it comes to laws that might impact their business (see: The Safe Cosmetics Act, etc.). Here are the latest figures, from the industry blog Happi:
The Personal Care Products Council spent $170,000 lobbying the federal government in the first quarter, a 21% increase from the same period a year ago. The Council said it lobbied on “proposed legislation relating to the regulation of cosmetics, including import safety, cosmetics registration and Good Manufacturing Practices,” in a disclosure report filed April 19 with Congress. In the first quarter of last year, the group spent $140,000 on lobbying. In the fourth quarter of 2010, it spent $150,000.
And that’s about all I’ve got to say about that.
Good morning! Is it overcast and dreary where you are too? This might brighten your spirits:
In a big, bold move, the American Academy of Pediatrics is saying the U.S. is failing to protect kids from toxic chemicals.
From the wires:
“Children are not little adults,” Paulson, of Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., told Reuters Health. “Their bodies are different and their behaviors are different. That means that their exposures to chemicals in the environment are different, and the way their bodies (break down) those chemicals are different.”
Kids may be especially vulnerable to chemicals during important periods in development, when their brains and bodies are changing quickly, Paulson added.
Of course we know this already, and we also know it’s not just children (and fetuses) that are at risk, but it’s amazing to see it getting more muscle behind it. Plus, the kid angle is always an especially compelling one, and one that will certainly increase pressure to update the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Happy news, right?
Happy baby pose via this amazing site, with stick drawings of yoga poses
A couple of weeks ago we asked you what your fountain of youth was. I made the maybe-annoying (but totally sincere!) point that for me it’s all about smiling, exercise, diet, sleep, sex and…argan oil. In other words, I don’t put much stock in products that claim to be anti-agers, because I understand the science of how our skin changes as we get older, and because I know women of all ages with lines and freckles and whatnot who absolutely embody grace and beauty—and their husbands and boyfriends and girlfriends think so too.
But we still like to keep tabs on what’s going on in the anti-aging market, and as it turns out, so does the FDA. Say what?
From Beauty Schooled:
Over 80 companies — including big girl brands like L’Oreal, Avon and Revlon! — are on a special FDA watch list because the agency believes they may be importing, manufacturing or shipping skin care creams that make “drug claims,” like that said skin cream can alter the structure or function of your body (cellulite and wrinkle erasers, anyone?) or treat or prevent disease. This is a violation of pretty much the only cosmetics law we have in this country. And the beauty industry can’t even follow that one.
We talk a little in the book about confusing “cosmeceuticals”—this is a made up marketing term that means nothing but implies a lot. Specifically: a performance that could be almost drug-like, and the sense that it may be doctor-recommended, probably because so many of these lines are actually by doctors. These are essentially products that make drug-like claims, but are regulated (which is to say, are not really regulated at all) as cosmetics.
By definition, cosmetics are supposed to be, well, cosmetic. According to the FDA, cosmetics are defined by their intended use, as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.”
If it were true that all cosmetics do is alter appearance and “promote attractiveness” (LOL), then we wouldn’t have had a book to write. We’d also have really dirty clothes, because that would mean our skin is impermeable and so everything we put on ourselves would just rub off onto anything else that touched it, which is obviously not what happens.
The bottom line is it’s simply not true that cosmetics behave in a way that is purely cosmetic. So shouldn’t some of them be treated like drugs? Yes, say many experts—even some conservative ones who probably disagree with almost everything else we say. Tthe FDA even has a section of its site devoted to the matter.
Through the trusty channels of skin absorption and inhalation, some—though not all—ingredients do make their way into our bodies, where all kinds of undesirable things can happen. So the problem, as we see it, is the way cosmetics are defined in the first place. The science has outpaced the definitions and the regulations, and based on what we now know about some ingredients—from the ones that promise to plump up our smile lines to the ones that promise nothing but can sneak into our bodies and mess with our hormones—it’s time for the FDA to hop out of its time machine and do something.
Fantastic news coming out of Denmark. The country’s environment ministry announced today that it was banning two parabens in products for kids under 3, making it the first in Europe to ban those pesky hormone disruptors. Hey, it only applies to kids’ products, but it’s a HUGE start. I’m curious to see what will happen. Will companies start reformulating for Denmark only? Will they just replace parabens with another cheap synthetic preservative like phenoxyethanol, which is also on our black list in the book? Will the EU follow suit? Will the United States? (That last one was a joke. Kind of.)
You can read all about it in Danish or stay tuned for more news from us. And if you speak Danish, would you be a doll and email us at nomoredirtylooks at gmail dot com? Grazie!
If you grew up in Canada like we did, you probably grew up loving David Suzuki. The environmentalist and educator has been ahead of so many issues for so long, so we were quite delighted to see that the foundation that bears his name has taken on cosmetics. Yesterday they announced the findings of their months-long research into cosmetics, and they’ve unveiled their own Dirty Dozen, which has a lot in common with the ingredients we warn about in the book (where we show you how to actually find these mysterious things on product labels, and in which products they appear). We like their list!
We’d love to see Canada pave the way for reform, but considering the head of the cosmetics industry in Canada is also a former government health official, we won’t be holding our breath.
You can download the complete PDF here. And read on to see what made their list:
1. BHA and BHT
2. Coal tar dyes
4. Dibutyl phthalate
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)
8. PEG compounds
11. Sodium laureth sulfate