This was not on my agenda today, writing this post. But I have to. (I HAVE to.) Because it not only affects something we care about very deeply, but because it dances on my foundational beliefs in freedom of choice.
I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (H.R. 2359) already, but in case you haven’t, here is an article on the Huffington Post about it (which also happens to be what sparked this post).
The article is very much in favor of it, but please understand: I am not. It’s important, though, that everyone see both sides of the coin.
If you read all the way down the article and into the comments, you will see my reply:
As a natural beauty blogger, you’d think I’d be all for this legislation. I am not. We don’t need more regulation (god knows the government is FAR too deep into everyone’s business – especially small business – already). What we NEED is education. Not only about the potential dangers in ALL cosmetics – but truly natural options people can use in lieu of synthetic chemical-filled beauty products (regardless of labeling).
It is absolutely possible to keep your mitts off the products in the stores and choose TRULY natural alternatives instead. It’s cheaper, healthier – and more effective.
If you don’t trust a company to do what’s right, don’t buy their stuff. Government regulations aren’t going to magically make corporations ethical. If anything, it will do the opposite.
Want proof? Look at the FDA and their corporate (Monsanto) bedfellows. Think the corruption is just going to magically stop when you introduce cosmetic companies into the mix?
If you want to shut out the small guys and give favors to big corporations, get the FDA involved. It’s a general rule.
And if this isn’t enough to convince you, an entire huge network of small natural beauty businesses (who are historically THE most ethical and safe) vehemently oppose this legislation, because it will cripple their ability to earn a living.
Surprisingly, my comment was met with a reply from Stacy Malkan, herself (who was instrumental in writing this bill, as well as the founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics). Here was here reply:
Dear Crunchy, I agree with you that people need to choose toxic-free products. Unfortunately, it’s currently legal for cosmetics companies to hide the toxicity of their products, to keep the true contents of products secret from consumers (such as the carcinogens commonly found in baby shampoos), to call their products “pure” and “natural” anyway, and to generally otherwise confuse consumers into thinking their products are safe — with no safety standards whatsoever defined in the law.
The result is that unsafe products that companies wouldn’t dare sell in other countries are readily available in the US. Case in point: Brazilian Blowout — even the cosmetics industry is now admitting it’s unsafe, Canada and many other countries banned the product a year ago, yet it’s still being sold across the US!
Where I disagree with you is your comment that small businesses vehemently oppose this legislation. There are many protective provisions for small businesses in the Safe Cosmetics Act, and consequently, many small businesses are supporting it. Here’s more information about the reasons why: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2011/06/24/5-reasons-why-safe-cosmetics-act-makes-sense-small-business
To sum it up, we need to exercise our purchasing power as well as political power to shift the market so safe cosmetics.
I wrote a 700-word reply, which HuffPo doesn’t allow (comments are kept under 250); thus, my reaction and reply, my thoughts and beliefs, are here. This – this is why I oppose the SCA (and always will).
Does the FDA Need More Power to Stifle Natural, Organic Companies?
With all due respect (and I mean that – I thoroughly and completely respect your moxie and passion), the answer no longer lies in political power. Is it not evident yet what political power does?
More regulations are a band-aid to a bigger problem. They’re like (dangerously ineffectively) treating the symptoms of a disease instead of the disease itself.
In the case of the Brazilian blowout products (which are terrible, I agree), there will ALWAYS, ALWAYS be unhealthy things people choose to participate in. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone these days who don’t know that Brazilian blowouts are handily unhealthy, but they choose to participate anyway. And I respect their decisions to harm their own bodies, if that’s what they choose. Will there be regulation soon to outlaw tanning beds? Coke products? Standing on sidewalks near incoming traffic – or even driving those cars? Where does it end?
Moreover, the FDA already has the power to pull unsafe products from the market. If there is an issue with formaldehyde (or lead or phthalates or any other ingredient), why aren’t they already doing their job? Adding this stifling legislation isn’t going to help at all – especially if they’re so ineffective already.
If more women were as outspoken and driven as you are proclaiming the absolute disgusting, unnecessary beauty standards women are held to, if more women were willing to publicly shun the use of “mainstream” cosmetics, and if more women were willing to support one another in natural pursuits, we would begin to see a natural shift in the dangers found within.
No one had to regulate McDonald’s into offering healthier choices. The people did that by speaking and voting with their dollars. They asked for it, and the market responded. But if you look at it from the other side of the coin – how long did McDonalds use terrifyingly dangerous ingredients in their foods, all under the “rule” of the FDA?
Every day for the last two years, I’ve looked out my window at the most beautiful, quaint natural bath and body shop owned by two of the most absolutely kind and ethical people you could dream of meeting. They are TERRIFIED of this legislation. In fact, they talk about the death of their company as a given when it passes.
Again, I am all for safe cosmetics, but if the methods endanger the livelihood of passionate, ethical businesses – and in any way, shape, or form restricts freedom – it is a questionable pursuit, to say the least.
Anything driven by fear is destined to cause a loss of freedom. Someone has to put their foot down somewhere and say “Enough fear.” I look at my “job” as not fighting against something, but as moving forward into something better and healthier. In my eyes, that’s where true change happens.
And, frankly, the FDA’s abhorrently aggressive behavior against organic farms and raw milk suppliers, elderberry juice suppliers, and more makes me FAR more afraid than someone choosing to buy a bottle of shampoo containing questionable ingredients. The last thing they need right now is more power – especially more power to shut down small, organic businesses as they see fit.
Finally, I could link up about a hundred different “Oppose” articles all over the internet; instead, I’ll just finish with this article (which I figure you’ve already read, and would love to hear your thoughts on): http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/08/chickens-hr-2359-neither-is-related-to-safe-cosmetics/
Final Thoughts on the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011
My dear readers, I want to leave you with these thoughts, and then I want to hear yours:
- Can we trust big corporations to do what is in our best interest? Even with regulations (overseen by the FDA, no less)? No. Can we trust the business across the street, run by real people with nothing but true agendas? I say yes. The Safe Cosmetics Act unfairly unlevels the playing field for these small businesses.
- Do we really need to keep telling people what they can and can’t consume? Bills are passed on an alarmingly regular basis now that restricts our freedom of choice. What happens when someone up there decides that herbs are potentially dangerous and should be outlawed? What happens when we, finally, cannot access raw milk or other healthy options – even with the stifling regulations that are already in place?
- When has the FDA ever – ever – done anything in the best interest of small businesses and consumers? How many times have they made exceptions or turned a blind eye to corporations who are putting out unsafe products? (hint: rGBH, aspartame, GMOs)
- Do you and I make exceptionally healthy choices? Most of the time. Do we wish everyone would make the same choices? Yes. But should we MAKE everyone make the same choices? NO. Why? Because there are people out there who think that what we’re doing is unhealthy – and should they decide for us? Doesn’t it work both ways?
WE have the power to change things – through our relationships, through our choices, and through the rising tide of women who discover (every day) that they can maintain their lives in a wholly positive manner using NO harmful chemicals whatsoever.
But what happens when our ingredients go up exponentially in price (as they will if this legislation passes)? What happens to the business down the street when they can no longer afford to supply us with soap or lip balm, when we’re not able to make it? What happens then?
I support safe cosmetics.
But more than that, I support freedom.
Freedom means that things happen I don’t particularly want to participate in. And I’m perfectly okay with that.