Beauty Secret: Your Make-Up Can Kill You
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The cosmetics industry may be trying its best to avoid transparency, but concerned women now have more tools to help them slice through the spin. Thanks to the Internet, it's easier than ever to find information on the polysyllables in tiny print on the backs of bottles and tubes. The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database compares the ingredients in more than 30,000 products against 50 toxicity and regulatory databases, and even Wikipedia offers links to peer-reviewed studies on ingredient safety. Watchdog groups like the Organic Consumers Association out products that are natural in name only, and grassroots organizations like Teens for Safe Cosmetics are lobbying legislators for tougher laws. And there are heartening moves from within the industry as well. Six hundred companies have signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics compact, pledging to remove toxic chemicals from their products, and in May the consumer-advocacy nonprofit Natural Products Association announced that a new seal will soon start appearing on products that are made from at least 95 percent natural ingredients and that are free from ingredients suspected of carrying human health risks. Such developments offer hope that the cosmetics industry can one day be forced to recognize that women's health merits more than just lip service. â€©
Jacqueline Houton is a writer and editor who lives in Cambridge, Mass. She recently earned her Master's in Writing & Publishing from Emerson College.