Dangerous Moment: Industry plots to keep products toxic

By Lisa Archer, director of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at Breast Cancer Fund

“I have loved every minute of my career as a stylist until Brazilian Blowout completely changed my life. Our laws are obviously broken. We are pleading for you to help protect our health and our livelihood.” – Jennifer Arce, written testimony to Energy and Commerce Committee’s March 27 hearing on cosmetics safety.

Jennifer, like far too many of her colleagues and customers, has suffered a growing list of health problems after repeated exposure to cancer-causing formaldehyde from supposedly “formaldehyde-free” Brazilian Blowout.

Tuesday, in response to public outcry over formaldehyde in hair products, mercury in face cream and lead in lipstick, the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee held the first Congressional hearing in 30 years on cosmetics safety. Industry representatives dominated the hearing, while people who have been hurt by toxic products — like Jennifer — were shut out of the process.

The committee plans to attach cosmetics legislation to a must-pass medical device and prescription drug user fee authorization bill. Currently, committee leadership is favoring an industry bill that would rubber stamp the status quo, leave out key provisions needed to protect our health and actually make things worse.

Cosmetics industry lobbyists are working non-stop to push this proposal that would make things worse, essentially enshrining into law decisions about ingredient safety made by the industry-funded Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel — something that, according to FDA, would be “unprecedented” and possibly unconstitutional.

Industry is also pushing for federal preemption of state laws in order to override the 2005 California Safe Cosmetics Act, a law that enabled the California Attorney General to sue Brazilian Blowout and force warning labels on the products. In December, the Personal Care Products Council urged the state to de-fund and dismantle the state’s safe cosmetics program.

Essential public health protections could be set back another 70 years if industry gets away with writing its own laws that put industry profits over public health and handcuff states from taking action to protect people.

Despite the bad news, there were some truly hopeful moments at the hearing (thanks Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Ed Markey!) and we believe it’s still possible to gain meaningful, health-protective reform of our broken cosmetics laws.

This week, Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and John Dingell (D-MI) introduced the Cosmetics Safety Enhancement Act. These leaders may now be the last line of defense for the industry bill, and our best hope for strong meaningful public health protections. While the Dingell/Pallone bill includes many important provisions, it doesn’t go far enough to ensure cosmetics are safe.

Unlike the Safe Cosmetics Act introduced last year by Schakowsky (D-IL), Markey  (D-MA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the Dingell/Pallone bill does not yet provide protections against carcinogens and reproductive toxins in cosmetics, require full disclosure of cosmetic ingredients, or contain a strong safety standard. We will be pushing for inclusion of these important provisions in the weeks ahead. 

This is a truly critical moment — please join us to help protect the progress we have made together over these last 10 years. Sign up today for the Safe Cosmetics listserve for updates to receive important updates about what’s happening and how you can get involved.

Please also spread the word about the industry lobby on social media. Here are some helpful links:  Industry dominates historic hearing on cosmetics safety and the Roll Call story that reveals how industry is desperately seeking  “maximum credibility” from FDA.

With your help, this is a fight we can not and will not lose. For Jennifer and all of us, we demand meaningful cosmetics laws that remove the most dangerous chemicals from cosmetics, including chemicals linked to breast cancer, and include a strong safety standard to protect the most vulnerable people such as babies, pregnant moms and workers.

16 Responses to “Dangerous Moment: Industry plots to keep products toxic”

  1. dora kolker Says:

    save us from all these chemicals.

  2. Ilene Tyler Says:

    Do not permit industry lobbyists write the cosmetics safety bill!!!

    They do not have the best interests of consumers at heart.

    They exist to benefit the cosmetics industry and will make the cosmetics safety bill meaningless.

  3. Shelley Kramer Says:

    Thank you to Stacy and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics group:
    I have been with you on these issues since the beginning. Thank you for helping put this information out to the public. Lets hope nothing is taken away that we have worked so hard for the past 10 years. The Public deserves the right to know what chemical ingredients they are putting on their bodies and using in their homes.
    The new Prop 65 labeling on all products, whether they be “natural minerals, face products, liquid minerals”, anything with products whose ingredients are derived from the earth has to have this labeling now and goes beyond what is in our best interests, and is absolutely a very bad situation for all of California. ONly products sold in CAlifornia has this new warning label law.

  4. stacey Says:

    I wonder what the wealthy men and women are thinking if they let this pass… it affects them too. Or can they afford to buy products that are safer than more than half the country? I hope the men and women working on this bill consider what their wives are using at home and on themselves.

  5. Connie Pitts Says:

    Most politicians are nothing more than political prostitutes. They will die from these chemicals too, and so will their children and grandchildren. It’s absolutely ludicrous that we live in a country that poisons its own people, in the name of money. Hey, politicians, when you die (and someday you will), you can’t take the money with you.

  6. Sonia Evelyn Says:

    this is a worldwide fight. Here in the EU they are drafting legislation that will make it illegal for companies like myself from advertising any “free from” ingredients e.g labelling, websites, advertising material. They say it “denigrates” the ingredients when they are used SAFELY by larger companies. It is an abhorrent move, that defies sanity.

  7. Martha W D Bushnell Says:

    I do not use most cosmetics, because I consider them too dangerous to use.

  8. Martha W D Bushnell Says:

    The only cosmetics I use are hand lotion and shampoo.

  9. May Says:

    Do you all believe that organic is better for us? After all the research I did, “organic” means less harm for our environment, but no matter what cosmetic or product we are talking about it will still bear a certain amount ( that is not explained on the label, of course) of all these chemicals. Remember when it says “Not tested on animals” does not mean it is safe…… it is just that the industry are testing on humans……, so dont be so naive that everything is safe because it is animal free tested or organic. This also includes food too!

  10. Ani Says:

    I’m chemicaly sensitive so I’m a bit fanatic when it comes to readinjg labels. It’s funny, alot of them say “safe; yet upon reading the contents, you find the toxins. I’ve resorted to making my own skin care products. I am a firm believer if you cannot pronounce it, don’t know what it is, or wouldn’t eat it then do not put it on your skin. People seem to forget everything you apply to your body, your skin slowly absorbs.
    The saddest part are the children slowly being poisoned because the FDA refuses to do it’s job and protect us from harmful substances which includes pharmaceuticals. Too many innocent people have been injured due to the FDA’s negligence. The FDA should be fired due to conflict of interest and a New organization set up with the focus on proving skin care products and pharmaceuticals are SAFE before putting them on the market. Yeah I know it’s a bit idealistic yet sometimes it takes radical steps to bring about change.

  11. Jennifer Says:

    I just want to say THANK YOU on behalf of all of the salon workers out there who are so severely sick from their exposure to these harmful products. We appreciate all of your hard work in trying to get us some help!

    The fact that the Personal Care Products Council is urging the state of Ca. to de-fund and dismantle the state’s safe cosmetics program only proves to me that they obviously have something to hide! They call this law a “senseless waste of resources”, “serves no public purpose”, and it was an “ill-conceived law that has proven to be ineffective and costly in implementation.”
    THERE ARE A LOT OF SICK SALON WORKERS THAT STRONGLY DISAGREE!!

    IT WAS THIS LAW that was able to do what no other government agency was able to do…GET BRAZILIAN BLOWOUT TO STOP LYING!!
    There were a lot of stylist’s out there using Brazilian Blowout that had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA that it contain high levels of toxic formaldehyde because they were lied to! This company concealed the fact that their product contains formaldehyde through their advertising, their website, the material that comes with the product, the actual bottle, and even their MSDS’s.
    Up until January 2012 certified stylists were being sent email after email and letter’s not only saying how safe this product is, but that the government test result have been proven faulty!! Here’s a sample of just one of the MANY emails:
    http://notjustaprettyface.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/bb-letterceo.jpg

    Thanks to the California safe cosmetics act that allowed California to sue Brazilian Blowout, these letters and emails have completely stopped!
    Unfortunately because this process took SO LONG a lot of people got hurt in the mean time! (And still do!!)
    And if if you saw the GMA hidden camera investigation the information has not exactly trickled down to every salon yet:
    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/brazilian-blowout-consumer-alert-formaldehyde-danger-15824476

  12. Mel Says:

    I’m a PhD cosmetic chemist and I’m against all these neophytes attempting to make cosmetics in their home and sell them on the internet. What could be more dangerous than this: purchasing a product on the web from someone who did not go to school to learn how to make them properly. If you want to be a cosmetic chemist, then go to school and earn the degree first.

    The problem with the Safe Cosmetics Campaign is that they do not have any credible industry chemists that they are working WITH rather than AGAINST. My challenge to you is to work with the industry to make good choices not publish junk science that detracts from your potentially good ideas.

  13. Mariellen Perla Says:

    I will not use any cosmetics until they are proven safe I’m using organtic coconut oil to hydrate my skin. I don’t trust to cosmetic industry at all. I worked as a nail tech and got sick of the products made by Tammy Taylor. I’m glad I didn’t stay at that job. I wish the government would step in an police the cosmetic industry. But I guess it is up to us to do it indevigually do it ourselves. As usual big business win again. Too bad we could prevent cancer and other diseases instead of trying to find a cure for them

  14. Kevin Francis Says:

    The Only thing these Corporations understand is Profits. If we Stop Buying these Toxic-Filled Products, maybe they will Get the Hint and Get a Clue! There ARE Safe® Alternatives out there if you look for them. I use only The Sisel Safe® Brand of Cosmetics, Personal Care and other Products from Sisel International, The Health, Nutrition and Wellness Company. No Parabens, No Sulfates, No BPA, No SLS, No Propylene Glycol, or any other Toxic or Potentially Harmful Ingredients.

  15. Jennifer Says:

    @ Mel ~ I would like to ask you…what exactly did they publish that you consider to be “junk science”?
    There are a lot of sick people out there who are VERY THANKFUL for everyone at the campaign for safe cosmetics and for people like Rep. Jan Schakowsy and Rep. Ed Markey for doing what they can to protect us! For many of us (due to our illnesses) these people are our last hope in saving our careers. If only people would have listened to them earlier…it would have prevented so much illness from even happening in the first place!

  16. Kenneth Montjoy Says:

    I love your products, the soap is amazing, the shea butter is exquisite creamy and lightly scented, the face wash is moisturizing, the lip balm is the best product on the market.

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