As an investor, you should know that the cosmetics and personal care industry is under attack. As an individual, you should know that you may be using products every day on your body that have ingredients linked to cancer, birth defects and learning disabilities.
Cosmetics and personal care companies have been coming under fire for selling us products with such ingredients. In The Story of Cosmetics video, a woman named Annie Leonard describes how she learned the shampoo she uses every day has potentially harmful ingredients after she had the product analyzed by a lab. The industry response says its products are safe and the video is repugnant.
Well, it's not just Annie Leonard who disagrees with advocates in the cosmetics and personal care industry. Some people are comparing the business to Big Tobacco-during the days when doctors puffing on cigarettes were featured in ads and the companies were telling us that smoking didn't cause health problems.
In late July, Reps. Jan Schakowky, D-Ill.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., introduced the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, which gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients. Around the country, other groups, including high school kids, are taking a stand.
I don't know enough about the Safe Cosmetics Act to comment on whether it's the right way to fight this problem. But it's a start. Even if the proposal goes nowhere, that doesn't mean you have to sit back and wait for this garbage to be taken out of our body wash, moisturizers, deodorants, lipstick and baby shampoo.
Visit the Environment Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database. You can enter the brand name of a personal care product (or just the manufacturer's name) and see its "hazard score." Not only will the database help you avoid the products rated the worst, but it also can help you find the ones rated the safest.
You just might get disgusted and feel betrayed when you check out something that you've used for years and find its ingredients have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, allergies, reproductive toxicity, and other problems. I know I did.