Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Ugly Truth: The Hidden Dangers of Cosmetics with Annie Leonard

Whatever you may think, have heard, or otherwise believe about Annie Leonard, she makes some very important points about the safety or lack thereof of mainstream cosmetics that we use every day. Her basic premise is "Toxics in, Toxics out."  In the U.S., in particular, there are all sorts of bad nasties in the cosmetics and personal care products that most of us use every day.  Back in February, I wrote about the benefits of using natural products vs. the overly preservative and chemical-laden products in About Face! Lookin' Good the Natural Way.  And it seems that thanks to Ms. Leonard's work along with the tireless efforts of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and many others, consumers are waking up to the hidden dangers in everyday products we buy and use.  
This is important.  Why?  Because our bodies absorb what we put in them, as well as what we put on them!  Not only do we harm the environment through the production and disposal of these products, but we harm ourselves.  
Consider this:  A woman who wears makeup every day can absorb up to 4 pounds, 6 ounces of cosmetics through her skin over the course of one year!  And that doesn't even count the chemicals, preservatives and compounds that exist in shampoos, conditioners, fragrances, deodorants, powders, etc.  Do we really need plasticizers in our shampoo or lead in our lipstick?  Scary stuff.
As always, in the spirit of eco-steps (taking small steps to help ourselves and our environment), I encourage you to read up on the ingredients in your makeup and personal care products.  Check the Safe Cosmetics Database for what's in your stuff and seek out natural, less harmful alternatives. 
Additionally, tell people.  Spread the word.  Take action and ask Congress to support the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  It is through raising awareness and taking actions, however small, that we can influence companies to make safer products-- for us, for our environment, and for future generations to come.


  1. Good information.

    Seems the Egyptians and many other ancient cultures were able to accentuate their beauty without industrial strength detergents, solvents or hazardous materials.

  2. Great point. There is another issue here relating to people's obsession with appearances and the price they are willing to pay to hide their flaws. Let's try to live in reality. People age, skin wrinkles, hair grows gray. Face it with dignity.

  3. I like what Jen says. And not just because I have gray hair, wrinkles, and skin spots but because I think many of us long for the "the good, the true and the beautiful" to be authentic. We really want to see the light of love, learning and wisdom in others' faces to help us expand our consciousness more than our pocket books. It is by far more "beautiful" and sustainable than its camouflage.

    All that said, I must admit that sometimes I look longingly at the seemingly perfect and flawless bodies of others. As no amount of money spent on the best cosmetics would ever get me there, however, I will save the environment from needless toxins. Thank you for your posts. I enjoy them. There is always something to think about and in doable portions. Margie

  4. So one more thing ...

    I was leafing through a magazine the other day and they articulated better than I, but here it is.

    Men want real women and real beauty (which comes from within). I believe that most guys would tell you that they would rather have a great relationship with a balanced woman rather than a fling with a caricature of the "ideals" that are fed to us by the industries.

    Just my $ 0.2

  5. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone! If only more people felt that way-- or maybe we can help them see the light! :)

  6. Dan,

    The ancient Egyptians were actually ones of the ones who began the toxic cosmetic trend. Cleopatra used to use lead, copper, and kohl as makeup. remember the white face look of the Elizabethan era? The white face was accomplished with chalk powder and lead! Toxics in cosmetics is surely nothing is about time the cosmetics industry were held accountable for what they put into their products!!

  7. I see where you are coming from.

    My point may have strayed from my target.

    I feel like the natural image of a woman, as she lives a life close to the ideal of her natural potential as this blog supports, is beautiful and requires no "artificial sweetener".


  8. Thanks to Toxic Beauty and Dan for the education and clarification. For more information on where to find less toxic cosmetics and personal care products check out Toxic Beauty's site at:

  9. Four pounds and six ounces of makeup through the skin over the course of a year? That's just retarded. I can't even imagine a woman owning four pounds of makeup over the course of her entire life. Even if you include things like sodium laureth sulfate from shampoos and soaps, I still think you'd be hard pressed to get anywhere near that astronomical figure. Clearly there's no common sense when it comes to beauty products, whether you're for or against them.