FRANCISCO-On the eve of Mother's Day, when many sons and daughters
purchase cosmetics and personal care products as gifts for their moms,
the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reports that 116 cosmetics and personal
care product manufacturers have signed the "Compact for Safe
Cosmetics," a pledge to replace hazardous ingredients with safer
alternatives within three years.
Amid a flurry of media scrutiny and growing
public concern about toxic chemicals in cosmetics, many cosmetics
manufacturers are reformulating their products to remove ingredients
known to be carcinogens, mutagens and reproductive toxins. In addition,
stricter European laws have forced U.S.-based companies to examine more
closely the safety of chemical ingredients in products sold in the
United States and other worldwide markets.
Several major companies, including L'Oréal
(OTC: LORLY [ADR]), Revlon (NYSE: REV) and Estée Lauder (NYSE: EL),
have agreed to the first requirement of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics,
by announcing that they will meet the standards and deadlines set by
the European Union Directive 76/768/EEC, wherever their products are
sold. The EU directive, which became law in 25 European countries on
October 1, 2004, requires products to be free of chemicals that are
known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, genetic mutation or
Despite repeated requests, however, these
and other major multinational cosmetics companies have thus far refused
to sign the full "Compact for the Global Production of Safe Health and
Beauty Products," which would commit them to undertake an inventory of
all ingredients; determine whether they use chemicals that pose hazards
including cancer, endocrine disruption, genetic mutation, reproductive
toxicity, developmental harm and neurotoxicity; and implement a plan to
replace those ingredients with safe alternatives within three years.
Commonly-used cosmetics ingredients that pose such risks include
formaldehyde, coal tar, lead acetate, silica, propylene glycol, sodium
lauryl sulphate and p-phenylenediamine.
The Compact for Safe Cosmetics was
developed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of U.S.-based
health and environmental groups, as a way to protect consumers from
toxic chemicals and hold companies accountable for the safety of their
products. In recent months, the rate at which companies have signed the
Compact has increased significantly.
"We congratulate the 116 companies who have
signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics," said Jeanne Rizzo, R.N.,
executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund, a founding member of the
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. "It is our fervent hope that more
companies will follow their lead and make a firm, unwavering commitment
to protect our health by ensuring cosmetic safety."
Contrary to what many consumers may believe, the FDA does not review or
regulate cosmetics products or ingredients for safety before they are
sold to the public and has no legal authority to require safety
assessments of cosmetics (www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-206.html).
As a result, one out of every 100 personal care products on the market
contains known or probable carcinogens and 89 percent of ingredients in
products have not been assessed for safety, according to a study by the
Environmental Working Group (http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep/).
Women and girls use an average of 12
personal care products daily, according to a 2004 survey conducted by
the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Current Compact signers include Aubrey Organics, Avalon Natural
Products, and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps. For the full list, please