Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is it True there is Lead in Lipstick?

Lead in Lipstick

Lead in lipstick? Turns out, the ur­ban legend is true. In October 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 popular brands of lipsticks at an independent lab for lead content.

The results: 61 percent of lipsticks contained lead, with levels ranging up to 0.65 parts per million. Lead-contaminated brands included L'Oreal, Cover Girl and even a $24 tube of Dior Addict. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration promised it would conduct an investigation, but dragged its feet in doing so.

It took nearly two years, pressure from consumers and a letter from three U.S. Senators, but in 2009 the FDA released a follow-up study that found lead in all samples of lipstick it tested, at levels ranging from 0.09 to 3.06 ppm – levels four times higher than the levels found in the Campaign study. FDA found the highest lead levels in lipsticks made by three manufacturers: Procter & Gamble (Cover Girl brand), L'Oreal (L'Oreal, Body Shop and Maybelline brands) and Revlon. Yet FDA has thus far failed to take action to protect consumers.

No Safe Dose
The recent science indicates there is no safe level of lead exposure.
“Lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels. The latest studies show there is no safe level of lead exposure,” according to Mark Mitchell, M.D., MPH, president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.
“Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development,” according to Dr. Sean Palfrey, a professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston University and the medical director of Boston's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. “Since recent science suggests that there is truly no safe lead exposure for children and pregnant women, it is disturbing that manufacturers are allowed to continue to sell lead-containing lipsticks."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “No safe blood lead level has been identified.” The agency suggests avoiding all sources of lead exposure, including lead-containing cosmetics. (Read CDC's lead exposure prevention tips.)

Status Update

The Campaign continues to pressure the FDA to set a maximum limit of lead in lipstick, based on the lowest lead levels manufacturers can feasibly achieve. Thus far the agency has failed to take action to protect consumers.
A state bill to ban lead from lipstick passed the California Senate in 2008, but died after a massive industry lobby effort.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lavender Vanilla Body Bars

Only a few bars left of these wonderful extra large bars. Wonderfully filled with Lavender Vanilla Essential Oil. Big soft lather. Visit us at

We also have an Etsy and Artfire Shop.

Market Shift: The Story of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics and the Growth in Demand

Market Shift: The story of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics
and the growth in demand for safe cosmetics
by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
November 30th, 2011

Download Market Shift
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ report Market Shift describes the seven-year project during which the Campaign worked with companies through the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, the voluntary pledge to avoid chemicals banned in other countries, avoid harmful ingredients whenever possible and fully disclose product ingredients.
Market Shift highlights the 322 cosmetics companies (we call them “Champions”) that met the goals of the Compact. Another 110 companies (we call them “Innovators”) made significant progress toward those goals.* This is great news for you, the consumer, and for the Campaign, the cosmetics industry and the lawmakers working to pass the Safe Cosmetics Act. These 432 companies are leading the industry toward safety, showing it’s possible to make products without using the hazardous chemicals that are all too common in conventional personal care products.
Search the list of Champion and Innovator companies
See which companies are Champions and which are Innovators
Frequently asked questions

Read the press release
More than 1,500 companies signed the Compact from its inception in 2004 until 2011. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics closed the Compact in August 2011. The research team at Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database developed tools for tracking each company’s compliance with the goals of the Compact. Through these tools the Campaign determined that 322 companies achieved “Champion” status by fulfilling the goals of the Compact, and another 110 companies reached “Innovator” status by getting most of the way there.
The report describes how these companies – from small mom-and-pop businesses to some of the largest businesses in the natural products sector – are setting a new high-bar standard for personal care products. The Champions are demonstrating best practices by:
  • Making effective products without using ingredients linked to cancer or birth defects.   
  • Disclosing all their ingredients, including those that make up “fragrance,” showing that it’s not necessary to hide these ingredients from the public.
  • Working together with nonprofit health groups to increase market demand for safe, sustainable products and practices.
Please read and share the Market Shift report with your friends and family, and vote with your dollars to support companies that are doing the right thing- keeping toxic chemicals out of people and the environment.
*Due to an error in data analysis, one company was moved from Innovator to Champion status after the initial report release.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Contaminants in Bath Products Say No To Baby

This information is from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Does baby shampoo need to contain cancer-causing chemicals? No – but it often does.
Product tests released by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in March 2009 found two chemicals linked to cancer, 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, in dozens of bath products for babies and kids, including Sesame Street character brands and even the iconic "pure and gentle" Johnson's Baby Shampoo. None of the products tested listed 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde on the label.
Two and a half years later, Johnson's Baby Shampoo is safer in some countries, but not everywhere. Our October 2011 analysis of this product in 13 countries found formaldehyde-releasing chemicals have been replaced in some parts of the world, but not in the U.S. or Canada, among others.
Our inquiry started in February 2007, when tests found 1,4-dioxane in 18 soaps and shampoos for kids and adults.

What's Wrong with These Chemicals?
Formaldehyde is classified as a known human carcinogen, while 1,4-dioxane is listed as "reasonably anticipated" to be a human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Formaldehyde can also cause skin rashes in sensitive children.
As with many chemicals of concern used in cosmetics, the companies that make these products argue that it's "just a little bit" of 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde in the baby shampoo. But the same baby may be exposed to these chemicals from bubble bath, shampoo, body wash and many other sources over the course of one day, and these toxic exposures add up.

Why Do Products Contain These Chemicals?
1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of a petrochemical process called ethoxylation, which involves using ethylene oxide (a known breast carcinogen) to process other chemicals in order to make them less harsh. For example, sodium laurel sulfate – notoriously harsh on the skin – is often converted to the gentler chemical sodium laureth sulfate by processing it with ethylene oxide (the "eth" denotes ethoxylation), which can result in 1,4-dioxane contamination.
Formaldehyde contaminates personal care products when common preservatives release formaldehyde over time in the container. Ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol), imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.
Pushing for Change

After we released our 2009 Toxic Tub report, thousands of Johnson & Johnson’s consumers  around the world expressed their concern. In addition to receiving letters, emails and calls from angry moms, nurses and other consumers, Johnson's Baby Shampoo was pulled from store shelves in China, Taiwan and Vietnam, and several governments responded.

We've been in contact with Johnson & Johnson through letters and meetings since May 2009 regarding 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde and other chemicals in the company's products. Check out our full timeline of communications with J&J.
J&J hasn't been the only company affected. An August 2008 lawsuit was filed by the California Attorney General's office against several companies for making products with toxic levels of 1,4-dioxane.
The Good News
Yes, there's good news! Many companies in the natural products industry are quitting the ethoxylation habit, which generates 1,4-dioxane. Standards such as the Whole Foods Premium Body Care Seal do not allow ethoxylation, and many companies have been quietly reformulating to replace chemicals such as sodium laureth sulfate that are associated with 1,4-dioxane.
Product testing by author David Steinman released in March 2009 found lower levels of 1,4-dioxane than previously found in an array of products – proof that it's possible to make products without this contaminant.
Our October 2011 analysis of formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in Johnson's Baby Shampoo found that the company is using safer alternatives in some countries as well as in the "natural" version of baby shampoo marketed in the U.S. Not only is it possible to make baby shampoo with safer preservatives, Johnson & Johnson responded to our report by releasing a statement saying it is phasing out formaldehyde-releasing chemicals from its baby products worldwide. No timeline has been set for this phase-out.
What You Can Do

1. Avoid using products that list ingredients that may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, including:
  • sodium myreth sulfate
  • PEG compounds
  • chemicals that include the clauses "xynol," "ceteareth" and "oleth"
2. Avoid products that contain formaldehye-releasing preservatives, including:
  • quaternium-15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • imidazolidinyl urea
  • diazolidinyl urea
  • sodium hydroxymethylglycinate
  • 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Bronopol)
3. Ask Johnson & Johnson to make safer baby shampoo worldwide.
4. In the long run, we need laws that protect us from nasty contaminants. Write to your elected officials and ask them to clean up cosmetics.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Johnson and Johnson Baby Shampoo Is it Safe?

Why are babies in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China and Indonesia being exposed to a carcinogen in Johnson's Baby Shampoo when safer alternatives are available in other countries? We'd like to know!

More than two years ago, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released the groundbreaking report, No More Toxic Tub, which revealed that popular kids' bath products – including Johnson's Baby Shampoo – contained chemicals linked to cancer. We promptly asked Johnson & Johnson to reformulate its iconic baby shampoo and specifically to remove the formaldehyde-releasing chemical quaternium-15, and we've kept up the pressure on Johnson & Johnson through letters and meetings.
Fast-forward to now. Johnson’s Baby Shampoo in the U.S. and some other countries still has not been reformulated. But the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics recently discovered that J&J is selling non-formaldehyde versions of the shampoo in Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K.

We know J&J can do better. Every baby – regardless of where she or he lives – should be protected from unnecessary exposure to carcinogens.

Read our new report, Baby’s Tub Is Still Toxic for the full story on the Johnson & Johnson double standard.

We demand safe products for all babies, in every market, at every price point. If you agree, please write to J&J today

For healthy babies and safer products,

Article from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Soap in the Mold

Soap in the mold will be ready for cutting soon. Check back for a peak in the middle. It is always a surprise to cut the bars, each time is unique.  This is a new method I tried for swirling the colors. The bars will cure for 4 weeks and then I will have them for sale on our site. The pink is Bergamot and Pink Grapefruit the other is Oatmeal Milk and Honey. Yummy! All natural cold processed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Toxic Pesticide in Summertime Soaps Bath & Body Works

For Immediate Release: July 14th, 2011
Contact:  Stacy Malkan, 202-321-6963,; Stephenie Hendricks, 415-258-9151,

Toxic Pesticide in Summertime Soaps

Bath & Body Works markets products containing hazardous chemical to teens while other companies phase it out

(San Francisco) Today health and environmental groups urged retailer Bath & Body Works to stop selling its line of "summertime scent" soaps that contain triclosan, a toxic chemical categorized as a pesticide because of its antimicrobial properties. The line, which includes products with names like "Tangelo Orange Twist" and "Sugar Lemon Fizz," is marketed to teens using the slogan "spread love, not germs." Advocates are concerned that this toxic chemical, which has been linked to hormone disruption, is particularly hazardous to teens whose bodies are still developing.

Triclosan has also been linked to the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and antibacterial products. Along with its negative health effects, triclosan also impacts the environment, ending up in lakes, rivers and other water sources, where it is toxic to aquatic life. Despite its widespread use as a germ-killer in consumer products, triclosan is no more effective than soap and water at preventing illness or eliminating germs, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates pesticides, is currently updating its 2008 assessment of triclosan based on new science showing thyroid and estrogen effects.

"A chemical like triclosan that can disrupt hormones and may affect fetal growth and development does not belong in our soap," said Lisa Archer, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund, "especially since studies show that triclosan is no more effective at preventing illness or removing germs than soap and water."

In light of health and environmental concerns, major companies including Johnson & Johnson, L'Oreal, The Body Shop and Staples have said they are no longer using or have policies to not use triclosan. Colgate-Palmolive has eliminated triclosan from its dish-washing liquids and Softsoap hand soaps, but continues to use the chemical in its Total brand toothpastes.

"Thanks to the companies that are recognizing it is unwise and unnecessary to expose their customers to triclosan, the market is starting to move away from this hazardous chemical. But we are disappointed that companies like Bath & Body Works continue to sell products containing this toxic chemical, especially those marketed to teenagers," said Archer.

The Campaign, along with the Center for Environmental Health, sent an alert today to tens of thousands of supporters, demanding that Bath & Body Works join other market leaders in eliminating triclosan from their products.

More than 2,500 consumers have signed the Campaign's Triclosan-Free Pledge, agreeing not to buy products containing the chemical. More than 7,000 have people sent messages to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the agency to take action to protect people from triclosan exposure.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition of more than 150 nonprofit organizations working to protect the health of consumers and workers by eliminating dangerous chemicals from cosmetics. Core members include: Clean Water Action, the Breast Cancer Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Toxic Tub! Formaldehyde is used to preserve bodies after death not bath products

 Read this information. I would consider what you are buying especially if you have children. Desert Moon Bath & Body offers safe bath and body products. If there is a product you are interested in we do not carry just send an email requesting a product. We will do our best to make it using safe ingredients.

Toxic Tub: Product Test Results
March 12th, 2009

Below are the results for all the products tested for formaldehyde and/or 1,4-dioxane for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, "No More Toxic Tub." The company that distributes the product is shown in parentheses next to the product name. ND means that the impurity was not detected (though see "Why 'No Detect' Doesn't Mean No Problem" below the chart). A blank space means that the product was not tested for the relevant contaminant.

Product Name 1,4-dioxane (ppm) Formaldehyde (ppm)

American Girl Hopes and Dreams Shimmer Body Lotion (Bath & Body Works) ND* 310
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc) ND* 570
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc) 0.92 610
Baby Magic “Soft Baby Scent” Baby Lotion (Ascendia Brands, Inc) ND* 330
Johnson’s Bedtime Lotion Natural Calm Essences (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) ND*
Mustela Baby Body Lotion (Laboratories Expanscience) ND*
Tinker Bell Body Lotion (Goldie LLC) ND* 220
CVS Baby Shampoo (CVS/Pharmacy) 0.92 350
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) ND* 200
Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 1.1 210
L’Oreal Kids Extra Gentle 2-in-1 Fast Dry Shampoo – Burst of Cool Melon (L’Oreal USA) 0.95 260
Suave Kids 2-in-1 Shampoo – Wild Watermelon (Unilever) 0.69 ND*
Liquid Shower Soap
American Girl Hopes and Dreams Glistening Shower and Bath Wash (Bath & Body Works) 14
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel – Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works) 6.3 210
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel – Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works) 5.7 220
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel – Apple Blossom (Bath & Body Works) 18 150
American Girl Real Beauty Inside and Out Shower Gel – Sunny Orange (Bath & Body Works) 35 ND*
Bath Wash
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 1.4
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 1.7
Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 4.6
CVS Kids Body Wash – Blueberry Blast (CVS/Pharmacy) 0.75 54
Equate Tearless Baby Wash (Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.) 0.63 290
Gentle Naturals Eczema Baby Wash (Del Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) 6.4
Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (Gerber Products Company) 2.8 400
Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash (Kimberly-Clark) 3.2 410
Johnson’s Moisture Care Baby Wash (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 3.9
Johnson’s Oatmeal Baby Wash – Vanilla (Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies) 4.2
Mustela Baby Shampoo (Laboratories Expanscience) 2.8
Mustela Dermo-Cleansing Gel for Hair and Body Newborn/Baby (Laboratories Expanscience) 3.9
Night-time Bath Baby Wash (Target Corporation) 3.6
Bubble Bath
Barbie Berry Sweet Bubble Bath (Water-Jel Technologies) 0.65 440
Dora the Explorer Bubble Bath (MZB Personal Care) 1.5 130
Hot Wheels Berry Blast Bubble Bath (Water-Jel Technologies) 2.8 100
Mustela Multi-Sensory Bubble Bath (Laboratories Expanscience) 1.7 ND*
Sesame Street Bubble Bath – Orange Mango Tango (The Village Company) 2.8 340
Tinker Bell Scented Bubble Bath (Goldie LLC) 11 420
Baby Wipes
Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wipes (Kimberly-Clark) ND*
Huggies Soft Skin – Shea Butter (Kimberly-Clark Global Sales Inc) ND* 100
Kirkland Signature Premium Unscented Baby Wipes (Costco Wholesale Corporation) ND*
Pampers Baby Fresh (Procter & Gamble) ND*
Pampers Calming – Lavender (Procter & Gamble) ND*

Hair Relaxer

Dark & Lovely Kids Beautiful Beginnings No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Creme Relaxer, Normal to Course Hair (SoftSheen-Carson, owned by L’Oreal USA) ND*
Dark & Lovely Kids Beautiful Beginnings No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Children’s Relaxer System, Fine Hair Types (SoftSheen-Carson, owned by L’Oreal USA) ND* ND*
Soft & Beautiful Just for Me! No-Lye Conditioning Creme Relaxer, Children’s Super (Alberto-Culver Company) 0.27 ND*

Hand Soap

Pampers Kandoo Foaming Handsoap – Magic Melon (Procter & Gamble) 0.49 310

Sun Block

Banana Boat Kids UVA & UVB Sunblock Lotion SPF 30 (Sun Pharmaceuticals Corp.) ND*
No-Ad Sun Pals SPF 45 UVA/UVB Sun Protection (Solar Cosmetics Labs Inc.) 0.46


Colgate Kids 2-in-1 Toothpaste and Mouthwash – Strawberry (Colgate-Palmolive Company) ND*

*ND means the chemical was not detected in the product; however, this does not mean the product is necessarily free of other potentially harmful ingredients. Many of these products contain numerous other chemicals with health concerns.

Why “No Detect” Doesn’t Mean No Problem
Some products tested for this report did not contain formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane. However, that does not mean the products are safe. There is no guarantee that other samples of the same product are not contaminated. Also, there are no legal requirements for children’s products to be made with the safest ingredients possible. As a result, it is common to find chemicals of concern in brands marketed to children.

Here is an example of a product that did not contain formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane, yet contains other harmful ingredients:

Dark & Lovely Kids Beautiful Beginnings No-Mistake Nourishing No-Lye Creme Relaxer for Fine Hair (by SoftSheen-Carson, owned by L’Oreal USA):
  • Contains at least 55 different ingredients.
  • 98% of those ingredients have no or inadequate safety data.
  • Contains ingredients that are associated with health conditions, including:
    • Methylparaben: On the European Union’s Banned and Restricted List and recognized as having links to cancer, neurotoxicity and skin irritation.
    • Fragrance: Ingredients not required to be listed on product, but can contain harmful chemicals.
    • Triethanolamine: Strong evidence of skin, immune and respiratory toxicity.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

As a 13-year-old trolling the cosmetics aisle of my local drugstore, I assumed the products on the shelves were safe for me to use daily. Being a green-minded person even then, I reached for cosmetics I thought were natural, like Aveeno, Herbal Essences and St. Ives. I had no idea that cosmetics are basically unregulated or that a company can claim their products are "natural" or "organic" even if they contain few if any natural or organic ingredients.
I was fooled. I eventually found out these products are no different from conventional products: they, too, contain synthetic chemicals that are hazardous to health and the environment.
Was it my fault? No way! My teenage self, in a critical time of development, fell victim to greenwashing, when a company makes "green" claims to appeal to consumers even though the product, company or ingredients is not truly healthy or sustainable. These same companies (and many, many more) are still greenwashing. It's time to tell these greenwashers that we want cosmetics that are really safe, not just a lot of foolish marketing!
Aveeno (owned by Johnson & Johnson) is found in the bathrooms of my green-leaning friends, but some Aveeno products contain mystery "fragrance" ingredients and chemicals linked to cancer (1), reproductive and organ toxicity (2).
Herbal Essences (owned by Procter & Gamble) claims to be "inspired by nature." But there's not much natural or "herbal" about a line that contains a dozen synthetic chemicals, including sodium laureth sulfate, diazolidinyl urea, fragrance and others linked to health problems (3).
St. Ives' (owned by Alberto-Culver) now touts its "100% NATURAL MOISTURIZERS" and "natural ingredient glossary," but uses synthetic surfactants, preservatives and fragrance (4). St. Ives says it no longer uses parabens and phthalates, which is a great first step, but they still have a way to go to make truly "100% Natural" products.
It seems that companies have heard one part of the message: More and more of us want safe, green products – but we want products that are actually better, not just marketing hype.
Fortunately, many companies are making products that are safe and green. Click here for tips on finding safer cosmetics. You can also look for NPA, NSF and/or USDA Organic certifications* on products to know that a third-party certifying body has looked into ingredient sourcing. (To learn more about the wide world of cosmetics certification, click here.)
Clearly, we need to send Aveeno, Herbal Essences and St. Ives the most important part of the message: We will no longer be fooled by false green claims. Sign the petition and spread the word!
Yours in pursuit of truly "green" and truly safe products,
Mia, Campaign Organizing Director

* NPA is the Natural Products Association Standard. NSF "Contains Organic Ingredients" seal is a project of the Public Health & Safety Company. If a cosmetic product contains or is made up of agricultural ingredients, and can meet the USDA/NOP organic production, handling, processing and labeling standards, it may be eligible for USDA Organic certification.

1 Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report “No More Toxic Tub.” last accessed March 17, 2011.

2 Skin Deep search for Aveeno Foaming Cleanser. Last accessed March 17, 2011.

3 Skin Deep search for "Herbal Essences." Last accessed on March 17, 2011.

4 St. Ives website. Last accessed March 17, 2011.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Know What you are Using

What’s on your hair, in your mouth, and on your skin today?

Desert Moon Bath & Body does not use any of these chemicals and is cruelty free !

Every day the average American woman uses personal care and makeup products containing 168 problematic chemicals – chemicals not properly assessed for safety. The average man uses products containing 85 such chemicals. Babies and young children, too, are exposed to potentially harmful chemicals with every bath and diaper change. There is currently no federal regulation on these ingredients.
Here are four common chemicals, all banned in Europe, that research indicates can lead to short- and long-term negative health impacts:

PHTHALATE A component of synthetic fragrances, hair straighteners and nail polish. Also found in men’s cologne, shaving cream and aftershave. These estrogen mimicking hormone disrupters and carcinogens have been linked to early puberty in girls, lowered sperm counts, testicular malformation, liver and kidney cancers. Manufacturers are not required to list fragrance ingredients on labels.
PETROCHEMICALS Petrolatum, used in lip balms and lotions, may be contaminated with polyaromatic hydrocarbons, known hormone disrupters and carcinogens. A petroleum byproduct found in baby shampoo, bubble bath, and body wash —1,4-dioxane – is a known animal carcinogen and skin irritant in some children.

FORMALDEHYDES Germicides/preservatives in hair straightening products, shampoos, liquid hand soaps, skin lotions, nail polishes, and mouthwash. Can result in allergic skin reactions, nasal and eye irritation, hair loss, headaches, and dizziness.

LEAD and LEAD ACETATE A known human reproductive toxin, lead acetate is used in men’s hair and beard coloring products. Lead is often found in lipsticks. Repeated exposure can result in accumulation in body. No safe level.
For more comprehensive lists of problem chemicals and personal care product ingredients, visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: or Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Not A Pretty Picture..What do You Think?

Not a Pretty Picture

More than 500 cosmetics sold in the United States contain chemicals banned from beauty products in Europe, Canada, and Japan.
A proposed law aims to change that.
With her head of unruly, thick red hair, Susanne Harvey was easily enticed by the promise of a sleek, smooth new look. The innovative beauty treatment, which Harvey had seen touted at local salons and in women’s magazines, guaranteed a “natural way to fight frizzies.” So when she settled into the chair at her favorite beauty spot for the 90-minute makeover, she was excited. Little did the 39-year-old real estate professional from Calgary know that her makeover dream – the Brazilian Blowout – would soon become a nightmare.
Within three weeks Harvey was losing hair, lots of hair. It fell in her shoes. It covered her clothes. It pissed her off. Then it pushed her into action. What happened next demonstrates some of the crucial differences between the regulation of cosmetic and beauty products in Canada and other industrialized countries and the lack of oversight in the United States.
retro-stylized photo in sepia tones of a woman applying cosmetics in front of a mirror, she is smiling and the jars have no labels
Harvey started researching Brazilian Blowout and quickly discovered many women on blogs sharing similar hair-loss stories following treatment. Within 15 days of her hair thinning, she filed a consumer product incident report with the product safety office of Health Canada, the country’s federal health department. While she waited the required ten days for product testing results, she launched a local media blitz to warn others about the product. Harvey also contacted the North Hollywood, CA, manufacturer of Brazilian Blowout to request an ingredient list. The company refused, citing a pending patent.
Then came the testing results from Health Canada: Brazilian Blowout contained 12 percent formaldehyde.
“They embalm dead people at the same level,” Harvey says. “My head had been embalmed. I wondered if paying $400 for a 90-minute procedure was worth my health. And what about the dangers to stylists, inhaling the steamy off-gases from the formaldehyde formula?”
On October 7, 2010, one week after reporting its product findings, Health Canada issued a recall of Brazilian Blowout and prohibited future distribution to salons in Canada.
“Brazilian Blowout is now illegal in Canada,” Harvey says. “You have to go across the border to have it done.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA) launched its own investigation into Brazilian Blowout in response to a stylist’s complaint of chest pain, sore throat, and nosebleed. Last October OSHA released a warning to Oregon’s 21,000 licensed hairstylists stating that although the product is labeled “formaldehyde-free,” the actual level of formaldehyde averaged from between 7 and 12 percent in the samples tested. In early November the state of California entered the fray when the attorney general filed a lawsuit against the product’s Southern California manufacturer, citing a lack of warning to salon stylists and consumers that BB contains levels of formaldehyde possibly harmful to health.
Why all the concern over formaldehyde? Well, besides the immediate side effects of respiratory problems, skin irritation, and hair loss, the World Health Organization classifies formaldehyde as a carcinogen – linked to cancer of the lungs, nasal passages, and blood.
Despite all the news coverage, the Oregon lab’s test results, and the recall in Canada, here in the United States, as of early February, the Food and Drug Administration has not restricted or banned sales of the product.
Because, under current law, it can’t.
Most consumers who buy shampoos, deodorants, baby lotions, toothpaste, hair products, makeup, and sunscreens in the US probably assume that if the product is for sale, it must be safe. That’s not necessarily the case. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot regulate personal care products and cosmetics until after the products reach store shelves. And even then, the agency lacks the teeth to do much protecting.
The 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act required new products be proven safe before marketing. But the rules never applied to cosmetics. Manufacturers of cosmetics are not required to disclose all of the ingredients in their formulations, thanks to a “confidential business information” provision in the 1938 law. And almost any ingredient can be included in a product without undergoing a safety assessment prior to marketing. Consumers may report adverse effects to the FDA following use of a product – such as allergic reactions – and the FDA may test some ingredients, recommending their use be discontinued; but the system is based upon voluntary compliance by manufacturers. Unlike Health Canada, the FDA has no authority to issue a mandatory recall of any personal care or cosmetic product.
When it comes to what we put on our body – the products we slather in our hair or cover our face with – there’s an oversight vacuum. Today there are at least 500 cosmetic products on store shelves in the United States containing ingredients banned in Canada, Japan, and Europe.
“What we put on our skin should be as safe as what we eat,” says Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. “If you can’t prove it is safe, take it off the market.”
That’s exactly what a group of national lawmakers, joined by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group, are trying to do.
Last July, before the blow-up over the Blowout, some members of Congress introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act to address the shortcoming in vital consumer protection. The Republican takeover of Congress may have set back the bill’s chances – the $300 billion cosmetics market, after all, is big business. But the act’s backers feel that the issue has enough popular appeal to gain bipartisan support.
Of course, nothing is a given in Washington’s polarized climate. Backers of the act face a maze of competing interests – from big manufacturers that want to stop it, to small producers who fear government intrusion into their cottage industry, to organic advocates who feel the proposed legislation is insufficient.
“The industry has recognized the need for increased science-based oversight and that is what the Safe Cosmetics Act provides,” says Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who is co-sponsor of the legislation. “Our bill closes major loopholes in the federal law, and implements strong safety standards – such as banning cancer-causing chemicals, reproductive and developmental toxins, and ingredients that cause birth defects.
“Our legislation also introduces post-market testing, gives the FDA full authority to make an independent determination about ingredient safety, and gives the FDA recall authority to get dangerous products off store shelves,” Schakowsky adds.
Industry representatives, however, differ on what constitutes “safe,” and how much power the FDA should have over pre-marketing industry testing, ingredient lists, and recall authority. On July 21, 2010, the day the Safe Cosmetics Act was introduced in Congress, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) – a national trade organization representing more than 600 global cosmetic and personal care products companies – issued a press release that questioned key elements of the proposed legislation.
“We are concerned that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 as written is not based upon credible and established principles, would put an enormous if not impossible burden on the FDA, and would create a mammoth new regulatory structure, parts of which would far exceed that of any other FDA-regulated product including food or drugs,” the release said.
“The notion that cosmetics are laced with toxins and that consumers are put at risk is not really consistent with what really happens in the marketplace,” PCPC chief scientist John Bailey said during a debate aired on Democracy Now! the same month. “The products are safe.”
The PCPC has instead touted its own legislative initiative that would require that manufacturers register manufacturing locations, file ingredient lists with the FDA, and report “any serious, unexpected adverse event with a personal care product experienced by consumers.” Primary review of ingredient safety would rest with findings issued by PCPC’s own Cosmetic Ingredient Review expert panel.
Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, scoffs at PCPC’s proposed voluntary regulation system. In the past 30 years the review panel has checked the safety of only 11 percent of ingredients used in personal care products, according to her organization. Besides, the panel doesn’t look at the cumulative effect of exposures over a lifetime or worker exposures in beauty salons and manufacturing plants.
Of course, the likelihood of anyone becoming severely ill, or dying, immediately following the use of a cosmetic or personal care product – as is possible with tainted food – is very slim. But over the long run, chronic and life threatening diseases may result from cumulative exposure to the toxic chemicals in shampoo, deodorant, body lotion, or perfume. Malkan says the Safe Cosmetics Act would phase out chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and other harmful health impacts, and would establish a non-industry system to review chemical safety.
While manufacturers think the Safe Cosmetics Act goes too far, others complain it doesn’t go far enough.
Organic Consumers Association’s Cummins, for instance, doubts the FDA, even if given stronger regulatory powers, can address standards more appropriately handled by the USDA – especially when it comes to the labeling of products as “organic.” His organization wants tighter control over cosmetics claiming to be organic, and is pushing for certification of personal products based on USDA organic food standards.
To further complicate the issue, artisanal producers have their own worries about government intrusion into their cottage industry. The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild represents 35,000 to 50,000 small manufacturers, mostly home-scale producers who sell at farmers’ markets and health food stores. The guild fears the act would devastate the small cosmetics industry. “Our members try to make their products in the most natural way – although ‘natural’ is a loaded word,” guild president Leigh O’Donnell says. “Products [are] made from scratch, like baking at home. We do have to use some chemicals, though, as preservatives to avoid bacterial growth.” The guild believes “additional and unnecessary regulation” of the handcrafted soap industry burdens small companies and gives an unfair competitive edge to large cosmetic manufacturers. “We’re all for safe cosmetics, and we believe cosmetics is a safe industry,” O’Donnell says.
While the debate over federal cosmetics regulation drags on, one state has forged ahead with its own legislation. In 2006, California passed the California Safe Cosmetics Act requiring manufacturers of cosmetics sold in the state to report all chemical ingredients in their products that are known, or thought, to cause cancer and/or reproductive or developmental toxicity. Although there have been hurdles to implementing the legislation – including trade secret laws, insufficient funding, and enforcement issues – the California public health department says that more than 450 companies have made more than 25,000 submissions of information about products containing known or suspected carcinogenic ingredients. The state plans to set up a public database of these submissions later this year.
In Europe, the cosmetics industry is overseen by the European Union Cosmetics Directive, which mandates that all manufacturers list product ingredients. The EU has banned 1,100 chemicals from cosmetic and personal care products that are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive toxicity. The FDA bans or restricts only 11 such chemicals.
This means that some companies produce safer products for the European market and sell cosmetics in the US containing banned EU chemicals.
It is this very double standard the Safe Cosmetics Act aims to address. Rep. Jan Schakowsky plans to reintroduce the legislation this spring. The act’s supporters harbor no na├»ve notions about getting the bill passed in a highly combative congressional atmosphere. But they say that given the December passage of a tough food safety measure enhancing the FDA’s regulatory powers, the mood might be just right.
“This legislation stemmed from consumers who were demanding to know what is in their personal care products and what the potential dangers are of the chemical ingredients,” says Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who co-sponsored the legislation in the last Congress. “I really don’t see protecting the public from exposure to chemicals that can cause harm to their health to be a partisan issue.”
Legislation to mandate safer cosmetic products is “a big picture political problem,” Malkan says. “It is going to happen because it is good for public health.”
Meanwhile, regardless of the outcome of the proposed legislation, market forces are already driving change for safer cosmetics, Malkan says. The global market for natural and organic personal products is growing fast, and given the stricter ingredient regulations in other markets, US companies will have to respond to maintain sales.
As Canadian Susanne Harvey ponders the damage to her once thick tresses, she notes that changes in industry regulations in the US cannot come soon enough. Thanks to Health Canada’s recall, Brazilian Blowout is not currently available her country. “But the California company can bring their product right back with a new name, and a new label,” she says. And then it’s back to square one.
Noelle Robbins is a San Francisco Bay Area-based freelance writer. She last wrote for the Journal about the ecological footprint of toilet paper. For more of her work, visit:

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Help To Urge Persident Obama

Every minute, at least one American will die from cancer. Yet many of these cancers could have been prevented.

This Presidents' Day weekend, we're kicking off a month-long petition drive to convince President Obama that we need a national cancer prevention strategy that gets cancer-causing chemicals out of our products. Sign the petition now!

Americans are exposed regularly to carcinogenic chemicals in the workplace, in schools and even in our own bathrooms. It's perfectly legal to add chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer to cosmetics we use on our bodies every day.

In its report to the President last year, the President’s Cancer Panel confirmed that exposure to toxic chemicals is an important but under-recognized risk factor for cancer. The Panel urged the President to "most strongly use the power of your office" to eliminate human exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

Please join the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and our friends and colleagues across the U.S. in this coordinated effort: Sign the petition asking President Obama to protect Americans from cancer-causing chemicals and promote safer, greener chemistry alternatives. 

From the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics