Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry

Continuing my observations from my last entry, I was linked to another site through my research initiated by Story of Stuff. The author’s friend, Stacy Malkan, has written a book called “Not Just a Pretty Face” and it is dedicated to exposing the Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry. Apparently, companies are not required by law to list all possible hazardous processes involved in production of cosmetic products. They justify this by saying we don’t actually ingest their products and hence don’t need to worry about slathering potential carcinogens and other nasty byproducts onto our hair, skin and lips. Yeah, I feel much better about that!

Anyway, according to the Not Just a Pretty Face blog written by the book’s author herself, even organic companies are take part in these charges. Man-made carcinogens are introduced to cosmetic products and no one is held accountable! She writes, “The Organic Consumers Association and author David Steinman shook up (and hopefully shook awake) the natural products industry with their report that 46 out of 100 brands of ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ body care products contained 1,4 dioxane, a probable human carcinogen that is the byproduct of a nasty petrochemical process involving the known breast carcinogen ethylene oxide.”

Another threat is the use of mercury and lead in personal care products. Both are well-known toxins, the latter of which has been denounced for its use in number two pencils. So it has been recognized because it is so harmful to kids, who may accidentally ingest it, but it is still being put into lipsticks. According to a comment to this entry, when confronted about this trend, an organic company has claimed that this is due to the fact that some of their organic earth minerals naturally contain trace amounts of lead. L’Oreal, which makes 6 of the top 11 most contaminated lipsticks according to the site, is shirking the responsibility of cleaning up their act. It even defends this production due to the fact that there are no FDA regulations prohibiting the process. So if lead is so harmful by ingestion to kids, how do these companies justify their ingestion by women of child-bearing age, who put the toxins right on their lips?

The blog also discusses the nationwide effort to make breast feeding safe, because breast milk samples were found to contain perchorate, a component of rocket fuel. Making Our Milk Safe, MOMS, is dedicated to preventing breast cancer at If you are interested, check out more info on Cosmetic Database and on Not Just a Pretty Face.


3 thoughts on “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry

  1. I have not used cosmetics for years for numerous reasons including those you state above.

    I have a tendency to think that cosmetics are also an irresponsible part of all the waste that we make. After all we do not need cosmetics to survive yet the land fill sites are full of empty powder puffs, lipsticks etc. I know the industry employs many people and so the job losses would be huge but I still cannot justify the wearing of them.

    Although not an activist by any means, I shudder at the way many companies take the easy route e.g animal testing by saying well we have a 5 year memorandum…. Putting chemicals in to a product which needs only to contain natural substances to me is just as bad.

    Sorry if I sound up tight I just get so angry at these multi nationals and their flippant attitude.

  2. Yes, I feel the same way. In fact, you probably said it better than I did: these products aren’t even NECESSARY for survival in any way, shape or form, and yet their production pollutes us and our environment on so many levels!
    Thanks so much for the feedback, and check out those links I posted, there is a lot of info out there!

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