The International Federation of Gynecology and the Obstetrics Endocrine Society have issued warnings about chemicals that we come into contact with every day, multiple times a day. What does this mean for the future of cosmetics?
On the one hand, this seems like a “no duh” moment. On the other, this could represent the true tipping point for the natural beauty category. Either way, it’s a big win for anyone focused on raising awareness about the potential dangers of cosmetics chemicals.
This weekend’s op-ed piece in the New York Times, Contaminating Our Bodies with Everyday Products, highlighted two recent and extremely significant warnings from the International Federation of Gynecology and the Obstetrics Endocrine Society about chemicals that are used in everything from receipts to cosmetics. That’s right: The medical mainstream is finally catching up to consumer advocacy groups such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group (EWG), issuing warnings about unregulated chemicals that the average consumer is coming into contact with every day, multiple times a day.
The warnings tied endocrine-disrupting chemicals to reproductive issues, diabetes, obesity and certain types of cancers, including breast, testicular and uterine. Both organizations focused on the potential dangers to pregnant women and unborn babies who are “polluted” due to mothers’ exposure during pregnancy.
U.S. cosmetics: a broken system
As this New York Times piece points out, one of the biggest problems with the cosmetics system and the chemical industry as a whole is that chemicals used in everything from flame retardants to shampoos are not required to be proven safe before entering the marketplace. Of the more than 80,000 chemicals used commercially today, very few have been screened for safety.
The piece goes on to compare the chemical industry to that of cigarettes in the 1950s: “researchers were finding that cigarettes caused cancer, but the political system lagged in responding. Now the same thing is happening with toxic chemicals.”
The future of cosmetics safety
These medical warnings and the following media coverage show that the topic of cosmetics safety will continue to infiltrate mass-market consumers. What this coverage doesn’t indicate is any shift in the regulatory landscape surrounding chemical usage.
Assuming that the government doesn’t soon crack down on chemical usage in consumer products, what it does mean is that we need to start making more informed decisions about the products we apply to our bodies. Turn to your retailers, ones you know have a stringent vetting process, look for third-party certifications/verifications such as the newly launched EWG Verified: For Your Health and join the conversation by getting involved with organizations such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Protect Our Breasts.