No, I’m not talking about the Britney Spears’ song. I’m talking about the, on average, four pounds of chemicals that we absorb through our skin into our bodies each year.

I used to think that our bodies could handle most of the day to day chemicals that we come in contact with. But I don’t think that anymore.

It can be mind boggling…pesticides in the garden and on our food, insecticides, chemical cleaning products, personal products such as deodorant, body lotions, hair and nail products. Because these chemicals are invisible, I used to not even think about “out gassing” from carpets, furniture made from composite wood products, new car interiors, fragrances, children’s toys, or how about carcinogenic formaldehyde based substances that create perma press fabrics? Frustratingly, as some chemicals are banned,  even more are being added and end up increasing our overall exposure.

I think this issue is so important for all of us to be aware of and protect ourselves against that I’ll be writing about it repeatedly, but for this post, take a look at this excellent and entertaining 8 minute film. It’s by Annie Leonard of “The Story of Stuff” fame and is called, appropriately,  “The Story of Cosmetics”.

When you’re finished, be sure to go to the “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics”post and click on the appropriate link to demand that big cosmetic companies (like Estee Lauder) stop “pinkwashing” by saying they’re supporting breast cancer research while they continue to add carcinogenic chemicals to their products.  Wow! Really? I wonder if they just don’t know any better?  😦

FYI, you can go to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics site and access the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) “Skin Deep” database to find more than 60,000 shampoos, make-up, deodorant, sunscreen and other personal care products with 50 toxicity and regulatory databases. You can also find products that are free of carcinogens, fragrances, and contaminants.

“The Story of Cosmetics”


October 15, 2010

This October, ask Estee Lauder to help prevent breast cancer

It’s October, which means autumn colors are arriving – especially the color pink, which is now synonymous with “breast cancer awareness.”

Estee Lauder trumpets its commitment to breast cancer awareness through promotions and pink ribbons galore. Awareness about early detection and treatment options is important. But when one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, what we need most of all is to get chemicals linked to cancer out of products we use every day– including cosmetics from pink ribbon companies like Estee Lauder.

Some examples: Estee Lauder brands Bumble & Bumble, Aveda and Clinique contain chemicals that are likely to be contaminated with the carcinogens 1,4-dioxane or formaldehyde; Bobbi Brown Blush contains silica and titanium dioxide (which poses a risk of cancer from inhalation); and several Estee-owned brands still use parabens, which can act like estrogen in the body. Higher estrogen exposures throughout a woman’s life can increase her risk of breast cancer, according to the latest scientific evidence.

It isn’t just the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics talking about these crucial links. The President’s Cancer Panel concluded in its May 2010 report that many cancers are linked to environmental exposures. The Panel pointed to lax regulations around toxic chemicals, the fact that chemicals are allowed on the market without adequate safety data, and the (completely legal) use of known carcinogens and hormone disruptors in common products like cosmetics.

We know that Estee Lauder can make safer cosmetic products, free of ingredients linked to cancer. In fact, their Origins and Aveda brands have phased out some hazardous ingredients, but other Estee Lauder brands like M.A.C., Clinique and Bumble and Bumble have not.

Estee Lauder even lobbied against legislation in California that requires cosmetics companies to notify the state when they use chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects — while simultaneously launching Pink Ribbon campaigns to “raise awareness” about breast cancer.

In the absence of laws that protect us, we have to demand protection ourselves. This October, we want Estee Lauder to made a genuine commitment to women’s health.

Join us in asking Estee Lauder to promise that every one of its brands will stop buying carcinogens and hormone disruptors from chemical companies in the first place.

For health and cancer prevention,

Mia, Stacy, Lisa, Marisa, Genevieve and all of us at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

P.S. Check out Evelyn Lauder’s Huffington Post piece on breast cancer awareness, and post a comment telling her what you think! Then, learn which cosmetics chemicals are linked to breast cancerand how the pink ribbon came about.

Ask Estee Lauder to Make a Real Commitment to Women's Health
Estee, Make a Real Commitment to Women’s Health – No More Pinkwashing!
Take action! Ask A&F to stop spraying
What do we mean by “pinkwashing”?
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