300 companies join campaign for safer cosmetics
More than 300 cosmetics and body care products companies have signed an
agreement promising to replace ingredients linked to cancer, birth
defects, hormone disruption and other adverse health effects with safer
alternatives within the next three years. Twenty of the companies that
signed were based in the Bay Area, including Juice Beauty, Avalon
Natural Products and Wild Thyme Botanicals.
Many of the largest
cosmetics companies, however, have refused to sign the compact,
including L'Oreal, Revlon, Estee Lauder, Gap, Avon, OPI and Proctor
By signing the agreement, which is known as the
"Compact for the Global Production of Safe Health and Beauty Products,"
companies agree to meet the new European Union standards banning
chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects. They also agree to
conduct an inventory of all ingredients to determine whether they use
chemicals that pose health hazards, implement plans to substitute
dangerous or potentially dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives
and to report to the public on their progress in meeting these goals.
to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Food and Drug Administration
does not review or regulate cosmetics products or ingredients for
safety before they are sold to the public, nor do they have any legal
authority to require safety assessments of cosmetics.
Safe Cosmetics spokeswoman Stacy Malkan said that with drugs, the FDA
requires a company to prove that a drug is safe before putting it on
the market, but with cosmetics, there has to be a proven danger before
the FDA will ban a chemical, said Malkan.
"It's extremely difficult
to ban a chemical in the U.S.," said Malkan. Formaldehyde, for example,
is listed as a carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency but
continues to be used in many nail polish brands.
The United States
has only banned nine chemicals from cosmetics, such as arsenic and
vinyl chloride, which are known to be harmful to health. The EU has
banned approximately 1300 chemicals from cosmetics that have been
linked to cancer, birth defects and gene mutations.
"They're essentially looking at same science we are, but taking a more precautionary approach," said Malkan.
said that the companies that have refused to sign the agreement have
given her and other people with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics various
responses. Malkan said those responses ranged from not talking at all
to saying they don't sign pledges. "They haven't yet shown a
willingness to work with public interest groups," she said. "They think
what's in their products is their business."
According to a 2004
survey conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, women and girls
use an average of 12 personal care products daily. One out of every 100
personal care products on the market contains known or probable
carcinogens and 89 percent of ingredients in products have not been
assessed for safety.