Parents, it’s time to get our s!@# together. Back to school quiz: How many toxic chemicals are allowed in your family’s personal care products that don’t have to be on the label? Answer: Over 3000 and it isn’t good news. That fruity, shiny lip gloss marketed to our daughters is full of poison crap including hormone and endocrine disruptors, and CANCER CAUSING ingredients. Yea, so isn’t the lotion that smells like cucumbers and lime and the shampoo and the scrub and almost everything labeled as “all natural.” No, I’m not an alarm sounding, helicopter Mom - I’m educated and I’m pissed. If you know us at ms.fresh, you already have the basic awareness so I’ll chill on that for this blog to focus on my ‘why’. It may seem as if I am in favor of heavier regulation on the cosmetic industry (which includes lotions, scrubs, hair care products for both, er... all genders - I’m learning!) but I don’t have a ton of faith in the integrity of the agency in charge of public health and safety - the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) thus I take control of what I am able: my personal choices, and keep my freedom, as a woman in charge of quite a lot while I’m at it.
I believe in the Ron Swanson, Libertarian idea of opening a business in America - it should be as simple as, “I have some apples. Would you like to buy them?” Caveat Emptor indeed. There is a bipartisan bill being kicked around the Senate (2015 Senate Personal Care Product Safety Act - Senators Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins) that will close labeling loopholes, require companies to register facilities, and expand FDA control of “unsafe products.” This bill though, exempts fragrances and flavors which will be protected as “trade secrets” leaving us, the plebs, being the all day sucker for corporate interest. Again. Let me explain.
A startling number of folks go from industry to government then back to industry with financial dividends. We saw it with big tobacco, it is rampant in the food and pharmaceutical industries, and it may well be the cancer of the cosmetics/personal care industry as well. I don’t want more regulation because I am convinced that the interest served will not be that of the consumer, rather it will be that of Darth Maul, oh I mean big business;) The FDA isn’t doing too hot a job of this in my book. A Harvard University study on ethics presents evidence that:
90% of all new drugs approved by the FDA in the past 30 years are no more effective for patients than existing drugs.
One in five FDA approved drugs seriously harms people.
Prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death in America
Further, quantitative evidence shows that since industry started making large financial contributions to the FDA, the agency has sped up the review process, increasing patient side effects, causing insurers (you, suckah) to pay more and revenue for industry to increase. I am not in favor, now or ever, of giving these folks more control over products I research, create, and empirically test before selling to my clients. I guess I am asking for you to take a leap of faith because I am that confident in the effectiveness and safety of my stuff. If it sucks, you won’t use it and if it smells like strawberry, it’s complete shit because that scent cannot possibly be in a truly organic lotion. We live in a country where biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies spend more money on promoting products than on scientific research. Let the buyer beware; we should not find false security in the blanket of government regulation. Hell, I don’t even want you to take my word for it. I want you to know for yourself because I spent most of my life unaware of this bs. Ain’t nobody got time to figure out everything. I’ve got this covered for you and I am serious about this stuff.
Lastly, taking a page from the big tobacco playbook, the cosmetics industry, goes to great lengths to deny connections between product and disease, markets to children (get that lifelong customer!), and charade very publicly in favor of corporate responsibility. A 2008 study by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org - a consumer safety coalition with whom I sometimes agree) “detected 16 chemicals from 4 chemical families - phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks - in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls aged 14-19.” The chemicals are linked to cancer and hormone disruption. They were found in EVERY SINGLE girl in the study. While parents agree that removing these toxin still result in bitchy teenagers, we do quite love them anyway and don’t want them permanently harmed in any way.
Parents, let’s get it right. Some change is better than no change and we need to be willing to accept the uncomfortable truth that the stuff we were raised on may not be the gold standard of health. If I’m wrong, slap a raw steak on your kid’s next flesh wound, have Aidan chew the lead painted windowsill for teething relief, and smoke (in bed) to relax. For my Grandma, Theresa Giblin Sheridan, you were right about the real bone broth chicken soup that had the power to heal our flu but wrong about the talc baby powder. You couldn’t have known it was extracted along with asbestos deposits until 2013, but Johnson & Johnson did. You had the ovarian cancer that took you though and I have to question a connection. And so we push forward and try to do better in the ways that we are able.
Jill Sheridan, M.Ed.