I wrote the following story years ago, when I was first getting into green beauty (a version of which would soon be called "clean beauty"). While I still believe in the importance of ingredient transparency and in being your own regulator, my view of the green beauty space has shifted since then. With pressure from consumers, formulas have changed dramatically over the past few years, meaning that there are lots of similar products on the market that fit the clean/green/non-toxic/cruelty-free/vegan/whatever-other-buzzword-you-want-to-use bill.
As such, I now see other elements as primary differentiators when making product decisions, such as innovation in packaging (I love Axiology Beauty so much), ingredients and materials sourcing (many coveted ingredients come from Africa or the Amazon, and it's vital to support ethical cultivation — both in terms of treatment of people and the land), and leadership and giving back.
I'm leaving the following piece while adding this prologue of sorts because I think it's important to do the best we can do to promote better consumerism (that's an oxymoron), but it's also okay to grow or have a shifting relationships with thespace.
Story from founder, Lauren, who holds a certificate from the University of Washington in Green Chemistry & Sustainability, is a natural & green-living enthusiast, and an advocate for safer consumer products.
My husband was diagnosed with cancer in middle school. Treatment included removing his right eye, a physical reality that he lives with every day, and one that requires extra precautions. As a result, we are hyper-vigilant when it comes to health, and have zero-tolerance for potentially toxic ingredients in our household. His struggle and perseverance have shown me that the little things do matter, and that if there's one thing I can do to protect my family and keep them safe, then I'm going to do it.
That brings us to makeup. When it came to detoxifying our household and personal care products, we were able to make easy enough switches using DIY hacks, but it turns out it's pretty difficult to fake a good eyeshadow.
I've been a make-up addict since I was old enough to wear it (I may have gotten busted as a tot for getting into my mom's lipstick... the love runs deep), so I was horrified when I found out that my favorite products came with serious side effects. I wasn't about to give it up completely, but I knew there had to be a better choice than exposing myself to the U.S. woman's daily average of 168 unique chemicals, many of which can be carcinogenic, hormone-disrupting, allergenic, poisonous to the planet, immuno-, reproductive-, developmental-, and neuro-toxic, and more.1
And yet, when making choices about what to put on our bodies, it's easy to brush off toxicity concerns with excuses like "everything's killing me," or "the dose is so low," or "what are the chances?" But what do you do when one of those adverse outcomes really does happen?
Compound the above toxicity concerns with the fact that the FDA does not test ingredients or final products for safety, and we have a serious problem.
The FDA restricts use of only 11 ingredients for safety concerns in the U.S.2 Eleven! These aren't even the fun ones like phthalates or parabens, but pretty obvious items such as chloroform. In stark contrast, the EU has banned more than 1,300 ingredients.3
Then there's the problem that even if it is banned (as are mercury compounds), it's not necessarily enforced: there is still mercury in mascara, and even the UN is okay with that.4 Plus, labeling loopholes make it nearly impossible to feel confident that all ingredients have been properly disclosed.
It makes me crazy to know that people buy and use cosmetics products every day that could be harmful to their health because of the (very fair) assumption that "it wouldn't be legal to sell those products if they were actually dangerous." Unfortunately, our system simply doesn't work that way. In fact, our current system makes it really difficult to make better choices.
And that's what pushed me to create Naked Truth Beauty: To provide easy access to safe and sustainable products, and to do so with total transparency so you can feel good about the products you choose to put on your body.
Thanks for taking the time to get to know us, and please feel free to write to share your story or ask questions by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
- EWG. "Why this matters - cosmetics and your health." EWG.org. n.d. www.ewg.org/skindeep/2011/04/12/why-this-matters/
- FDA. "Prohibited & restricted ingredients." U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2015. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceRegulation/LawsRegulations/ucm12740...
- Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "International laws." 2013. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/regulations/international-laws/
- Adams, R. "There’s mercury in your mascara, and the UN is okay with that" 18 October 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mercury-in-mascara_n_4122957