Movement Towards Green Cosmetics

In the past fifteen years, there has been a substantial increase in public awareness of environmental toxicity. From the steadily increasing cultivation and consumption of organic foods to the increased awareness of the toxic chemicals found in textiles and building materials, we are realizing more and more that the comfort and convenience of the many technological advances that have found their way into the products that we use every day have come with a steep price in terms of our health and well-being. One of the least known yet most often used sources of toxic exposure in our lives are cosmetics and beauty products. For instance, did you know that even cosmetic products normally associated with health, such as some of the most popular brands of tooth paste and soaps, often contain chemical additives that can cause health problems or even be toxic? The irony here is that not only are these among the most often and regularly used products in our homes, but they are intended to be used in ways that ensure that their components will be absorbed into the body.

Things, however, are starting to change even in the world of cosmetics. In the past five years, I have seen a slow but steady rise in the amount of reporting and general awareness concerning the toxic elements contained in these products. Here's an excerpt from an article I read today in The New York Times:

[T]he city [San Francisco] has just passed the country’s first Healthy Nail Salon Recognition ordinance. It is intended to address occupational health hazards among the city’s more than 200 nail salons and 1,800 nail technicians, many of Vietnamese descent. Under the ordinance, the city will publicly identify establishments that use polishes (including top and base coats) free of the chemicals toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and formaldehyde — the so-called toxic trio. The three are on the hit list of the California Safe Cosmetics Act as causing cancer or birth defects.

California, so often at the vanguard of progressive legislation in the US, appears to be once again doing its thing. Hopefully, this is a good sign of more movement to come in this direction.