Annie Leonard’s The Story of Cosmetics: Essential News About Your Beauty Products


Did you know that the cosmetics industry is largely self-regulated? Did you know that lead is found in two-thirds of all top-selling lipsticks? Did you know the FDA has only banned eight of the 12,000 chemicals used in cosmetics and that they don’t require all ingredients be listed on the labels? Did you know that you could learn enough infuriating facts about the cosmetics industry to the point of wanting to don a haz-mat suit every time you step into the shower?

Okay, so the last question may be my own. But a new short from documentarian Annie Leonard has the beauty world talking – and this time, it’s not about who got what lip or breast implants. Leonard is the author The Story of Stuff, where she takes a good hard look at what we’re putting into our bodies every time we use beauty products. Check out her short here.

The good news? Congress has come up with legislation that may change all this. The Campaign of Safe Cosmetic just announced that Congress has introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc. sponsored the bill which “gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients. Existing law, passed in 1938, granted decision-making about ingredient safety to the cosmetics industry.” This law, among other acts, will phase out ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and more. It will adequately fund the FDA and require full transparency of ingredients of products for users and beauty workers.

So what can you do in the meantime? As always, be vigilant about reading labels. A good rule of thumb is to look for Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (SLS), parabens, and phthalates. Check out our resources for some of the most toxic products. We have covered a ton of products here at EcoSalon, so scroll down to learn about various natural and/or organic beauty products.

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Image: idhren

Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.