By Alanna Brown, LuxEco Editorial Assistant
Have you ever wondered how your shampoo fulfills its magnificent claims to give you “shinier,” “sleeker,” “frizz freer,” “blonder,” “brunetter,” (…the list goes on) hair? Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff and The Story of Bottled Water, wondered this of her personal favorite, Pantene Pro-V. She looked at the ingredients on the bottle post-lather and thought, “Sodium laureth sulfate? Tetrasodium EDTA? Methylisothiazolinone? What is this stuff?” After doing some research, she found the truth behind her shampoo was disheartening, to say the least. In her most recent short film installment, The Story of Cosmetics, Annie Leonard tells us how it’s not just shampoo, but many personal care products that contain toxic ingredients. From sunscreen to lipstick, there are disease-causing chemicals in our daily product regimen responsible for cancer, learning disabilities, and much more.
Leonard tells us the average woman uses as many as 12 products on a daily basis, while men use as many as 6. Each of these contains at least a dozen different chemicals, and less than 20 percent of these have been approved for safety. “Would you fly on an airline that only inspects 20 percent of its planes?” Leonard cleverly queries. The answer there is obvious.
So one might think the solution would be equally as obvious…let’s make safer products! But the cosmetic industry has no safety standards or laws to adhere to. For the most part, they regulate their own ingredients. Occasions when the government has gotten involved have been few and far-between. In fact, since 1938 the FDA has banned only 8 out of over 12,000 chemicals used in personal care products.
It is time for us to clear out this toxic stuff. Leonard directs us to one safe cosmetics resource to help make us knowledgeable about alternatives. However, more than that, what we really need to do is demand safe products as standard through FDA regulation. With the dawn of green chemistry, it’s only a matter of time before companies have to comply by stocking our shelves and cabinets with products we can trust. Some stores, such as Whole Foods Market, are already raising the bar and making the demand.
Watch Annie Leonard’s The Story of Cosmetics to see for yourself.