New York — A full-page advertisement in USA Today challenges cosmetics companies to come clean about whether they plan to remove toxic chemicals that are banned in the European Union from products sold on American shelves. The advertisement was placed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of US health and environmental groups.
This month, a law requiring cosmetics companies to stop using chemicals that are known or highly suspected of causing cancer, impaired fertility or birth defects – such as the phthalates DBP and DEHP used in some fragrance, hair spray and nail polish – entered into force in 25 EU countries. Cosmetics companies must remove the proscribed chemicals from products in Europe by next spring.
“Which company do you trust with your daughter?” asks the provocative advertisement, which depicts a young girl applying lipstick. The ad berates industry leaders L’Oreal, Revlon and Unilever for ignoring requests to remove toxic chemicals from American products.
“Today we are releasing correspondence from these companies showing that they have failed to respond in good faith to the legitimate concerns of American consumers,” said Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of the Breast Cancer Fund, a founding member of the coalition.
“People are putting chemicals on and into our bodies every day, though use of shampoo, deodorant, face cream, hairspray and all of the other bottles, jars and cans that fill our bathrooms. Chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects do not belong in these products, period.”
According to the letters released today by the group:
Â· L’Oreal failed to respond to letters requesting meetings and information about chemical usage, but the company did find the time to write a letter from their lawyers demanding that the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics stop using the slogan, “Because We’re Worth It!” — a play on L’Oreal’s “Because I’m Worth It!” tagline.
Â· Revlon sent the Campaign a form letter from an industry trade association, implying phthalates are “perfectly safe” – a claim refuted by government panels in several countries.
Â· Unilever failed to respond to repeated requests for dialogue, even though the company’s Korean subsidiary has already pledged to remove all phthalates from products sold in South Korea.
Correspondence with all these companies is posted at https://www.safecosmetics.org, along with the USA Today ad and a list of 32 companies that have signed a pledge to make safer products available worldwide.
Founding members of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics include: Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, Breast Cancer Fund, Clean Water Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, National Black Environmental Justice Network, National Environmental Trust and Women’s Voices for the Earth.
For more information and background on the campaign, see www.safecosmetics.org.