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Why the Beauty Industry Needs a Makeover: The Story of Cosmetics

True or False: The government prohibits dangerous chemicals in personal care products, and companies wouldn’t risk using them. False.

True or False: The government prohibits dangerous chemicals in personal care products, and companies wouldn’t risk using them.


The Story of Cosmetics,, reveals the truth of the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products, from lead in lipstick to carcinogens in baby shampoo and the implications for human health and the environment. It also outlines ways we (yes, you and I) can move the industry away from hazardous chemicals and towards safer alternatives.

Major loopholes in U.S. federal law allow the $50 billion beauty industry to put nearly any chemical into personal care products, even chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects, with no required safety assessment and inadequate labeling requirements—making cosmetics among the least-regulated consumer products on the market.

• More than 500 products sold in the U.S. contain ingredients banned in cosmetics in Japan, Canada or the European Union.


• Nearly 100 products contain ingredients considered unsafe by the International Fragrance Association.

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• 22% of all personal care products may be contaminated with the cancer-causing impurity 1,4-dioxane, including many children’s products.

• 61% of tested lipstick brands contain residues of lead.

Only 8 out of over 12,000 ingredients have been banned by the FDA in personal care products since 1938!

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