Annie Leonard & the Story of Stuff Project take on the cosmetics industry

Lead in your lipstick? Carcinogens in your child’s baby shampoo… even when it’s labeled “natural” or “organic?” It turns out that cosmetics and personal care products have been on the voluntary self-regulation train for generations… so Annie Leonard and the folks at the Story of Stuff Project have once again teamed up with Free Range Studios to make another video: “The Story of Cosmetics.”

Shorter than most of its predecessors, “The Story of Cosmetics” picks up on one of the major concepts Leonard introduces in her inaugural video and in her book: “toxins in, toxins out.” Essentially, if companies put poisons into the products we put on our bodies, those poisons eventually find their way into our bodies. All of this, however, is perfectly legal… there’s not a single federal law on the books addressing the chemicals that go into personal care products, and the FDA doesn’t regulate them. Rather, the cosmetics industry “polices” itself with voluntary standards.

That could change, however: the launch of “The Story of Cosmetics” was timed to the introduction of legislation by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Markey, (D-Mass)., and Tammy Baldwin, ( D-Wisc.). The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 would give the FDA the power to regulate personal care products and cosmetics, putting the US on par with Europe, which already bans certain chemical compounds.

Watch the video, then consider giving your Congressional representative a call… as Leonard notes in the video, this is one kind of government regulation most of us can support. And if you want to see what’s in the products you use, check out the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” cosmetics safety database: there’s a treasure trove of information here on the ingredients in your products.


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