The Make-Up Labyrinth: Understanding Cosmetics and Your Body

By Dineen, Shauna | E Magazine, November-December 2005 | Go to article overview

The Make-Up Labyrinth: Understanding Cosmetics and Your Body


Dineen, Shauna, E Magazine


Despite a scattering of media reports over the years, most consumers don't give much thought to the recognized allergens, probable carcinogens, hormone disrupters and inadequately tested industrial chemicals in the perfumes, nail polishes, shampoos and other personal-care products lining the shrives of U.S. drugstores, department stores and specialty retailers. However, this seemingly well-kept industry secret has been on the radars of consumer and environmental groups, as well as concerned doctors and scientists, for years.

So, who is responsible? Who is regulating the cosmetics and personal-care industry and looking out for consumer safety? The cosmetics industry will direct you to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the FDA will direct you to the Cosmetics Ingredient Review (CIR) panel, and the CIR will gladly tell you about all the wonderful research they are doing in the name of safety to keep consumers happy and healthy. But don't count on being reminded that they're funded by the very companies whose ingredients and products must pass their review board prior to entering the consumer market.

Safe as Directed?

According to Clinique brand representative Darin Stechman, "Product safety has always been a top priority at Clinique Laboratories, and is ensured through state-of-the-art testing methods." However, this testing, according to Stechman, does not include tests that establish the long-term toxicity potential, carcinogenic properties, systemic absorption properties or chronic effects of daily use. Instead, cosmetics companies focus their research and both animal and human trial tests on assessing pre-marketed products for allergenic reactions and skin irritations.

As a result, according to Susan Roll of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, "one-third of personal-care products contain ingredients classified as possible human carcinogens." The FDA is largely focusing its attentions elsewhere. Of the agency's $800 million annual budget, less than one percent goes toward regulating the cosmetics industry. Despite common public perceptions, neither the FDA nor any other government regulatory body actively assesses the safety of cosmetics before they go on your skin, your eyelashes, into your hair or onto your lips.

Cosmetics companies have the privilege of choosing from thousands of ingredients to create and market a hip new shade of eye shadow that you can buy at your local drugstore for your big Saturday night out. According to FDA Consumer, "In 1994, FDA headquarters received approximately 200 reports of adverse reactions to cosmetics. Skin-care products and makeup accounted for about 65." Was the FDA able to pull these cosmetics from the market? No, because FDA Consumer put it, "The agency can't do much about isolated allergic reactions or irritation problems. It's up to the individual to avoid the product that caused the reaction."

In fact, there's no law that regulates corporate use of phrases like "hypoallergenic," "allergy tested," "dermatologist tested" and "no animal testing." According to John E. Bailey, director of FDA's Office of Colors and Cosmetics, "The term hypoallergenic can mean almost anything to anybody," and the same is true for the other terms. In individual cases, the use of these claims might be backed up by substantial research, or they may not.

Not Too Pretty

The CIR is internally funded, and the FDA is under-funded, so where can Concerned consumers turn to get third-party health and safety information on cosmetics? Cue the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG has been dedicating untold hours since 2000 to compiling health and safety information for consumers on personal-care products. A quick visit to www.ewg.org will provide you with copious information about cosmetic dangers and lax regulation.

One EWG project of particular interest is the Not Too Pretty campaign, launched in 2002, which raises serious questions about the safety of phthalates (pronounced tha-lates). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Make-Up Labyrinth: Understanding Cosmetics and Your Body
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.