Naturally Speaking: Debating the “Safety” of Chemicals

Following is a collection of statements easily found on the Internet. I did a Google search on the terms “natural cosmetics” and “chemical free,” and the fi rst search returned 1,870,000 hits while the second yielded 28,300,000 hits. Even when I narrow the search considerably (for example to chemical free + cosmetics + toxic), I still get thousands of hits for documents attacking the cosmetic/ personal care industry in general, and various ingredients, products and chemists in particular on grounds of safety or efficacy.

Among those hits are certainly some folks who really believe they are performing a public service, but many others are laughing all the way to the bank by telling half-truths and outright lies for their own personal gain. We as an industry should have stopped these greedy folks long ago. We need to stand up and challenge them; but before we can fi ght back we need to understand the magnitude of the problem. I’m sure you will agree with me that many of the following claims are outrageous.

A good place to start is with the book “Beauty to Die For” by Judi Vance. Here is a quote about the book by one reviewer: “Beauty to Die For” is shocking, thought-provoking, and rock-solid in its research. This landmark book reveals the deathtraps in cosmetics that we unwittingly use in our daily lives.” I never even realized I was formulating “deathtraps.” Vance exaggerates. She further says that “cosmetic chemicals are not adequately tested.” Without doubt the safety record of cosmetics is excellent! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that all drugs (for example sunscreens) must be safe and effective and data must be submitted to the FDA before a sunscreen is approved for use in fi nished goods that are sold to the public at large. No ethical cosmetic company would market a product unless adequate safety and microbiological testing has been done. When the companies market/push their own line of “natural” or “chemical-free” cosmetics, I wonder what testing they have performed.

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