The Story of Cosmetics
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The Story of Cosmetics


This is a story about a world obsessed with stuff.
It’s a story about a system in crisis.
We’re trashing the planet,
we’re trashing each other,
and we’re not even having fun.
The good thing is that when we
start to understand the system,
We start to see lots of places to step in
and turn these problems into solutions.
Can I tell you, I love my Pantene Pro V.
Of the dozen or so personal care products
I use everyday, it’s the one I can’t live without.
Says it gives my dull hair “the ultimate cool shine.”
How does it do that?
I was wondering that, while I was
lathering it into my hair one day,
so I read the ingredients right here:
Sodium Laureth Sulfate,
Tetrasodium EDTA,
Methyl-iso-thiazo-linone…
What is this stuff?
I took this list to some scientists
who know how to read it.
Turns out my Pantene contains
a chemical linked to cancer.
And lots of other products in my bathroom from
sunscreen to lipstick and even baby shampoo
also contain chemicals linked to cancer or
other problems like learning disabilities, asthma,
and even damaged sperm.
Like most parents,
I try to keep my family safe
but now I find out my bathroom is a minefield of toxins.
What are we supposed to do?
To find out the answers
we have to go back to one of the key features
of our materials economy: Toxics in, toxics out.
If, at the factory, you pour toxic chemicals
into a product – like baby shampoo –
you’re going to wind up with… toxic baby shampoo …
AND toxics in workers, communities,
and, duh, babies.
So let’s take a closer look at this toxic outrage
where it seeps into our lives every day –
in the bathroom.
The average woman in the U.S. uses about
twelve personal care products daily.
The average man, about six.
Each product contains a dozen or more chemicals.
Less than twenty percent of all chemicals
in cosmetics have been assessed for safety
by the industry’s safety panel
so we just don’t know what they do to us when we use them.
Would you fly on an airline that only
inspects twenty percent of its planes?
Of course, not all of these
chemicals are dangerous.
But we know that many are.
Some are carcinogens –
that means they can cause cancer.
Others are neurotoxins
and reproductive toxins;
proven to mess up brain development
and reproduction in animals.
Wait a minute, we’re animals too!
It’s like a giant experiment.
We’re using all these mystery chemicals
and just waiting to see what happens.
One thing we do know is that
they’re getting inside us.
I had my body’s toxicity levels tested, and I’m
loaded with things like mercury, flame retardants,
triclosan and lead!
We all are.
Even babies are being born pre-polluted.
Now I know we can’t live in a lead free world,
but do they have to put lead in our lipstick?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s my fault.
Maybe I just bought
the wrong thing.
At the store, the choices seem endless.
I can get lipstick in 49 shades
or shampoo for hair that’s too
dry, oily, fine, limp, or frizzy.
But what about the choices that really matter?
Like the choice to buy products that are
safe?
It turns out the important decisions
don’t happen when I choose to
take a product off the shelf.
They happen when companies and governments
decide what should be put on the shelves.
So who are these companies?
This is Procter & Gamble.
They’re the ones offering me “Herbal Essences,”
the number two shampoo in the country.
It contains toxic petrochemicals –
made from oil. Since when is oil an herb?
On cosmetics labels,
words like “herbal”, “natural”, even “organic”
have no
legal definition.
That means anybody can put anything
in a bottle and call it natural.
And they do.
I mean, can you imagine a top
seller called “petro-essences?”
Gross.
What’s even nastier are hair
relaxers marketed to 5 year olds,
and skin whitening creams.
These are super toxic
both in their ingredients
and in the message they
send about what beauty is.
Ooh, here’s Estee Lauder offering me a
chance to help find a cure for breast cancer.
That’s nice.
But wait…they’re also using chemicals linked to cancer.
Don’t you think the best way for Estee Lauder to fight
cancer is to stop using those chemicals in the first place?
So really,
I get to choose between
meaningless claims on a bottle.
But these guys get the real choice
about what goes into those bottles.
And that happens back here at the
factories where they’re formulated.
Why do the makers of these products use all
these toxics, are they trying to poison us?
No, they’re just working from a 1950s
mindset when people were totally swept up in
“better living through chemistry”.
In all that excitement, they forgot to worry about
human health impacts. That was years ago, and they are
still using these same old toxic chemicals.
Today big cosmetics companies say the doses of poison
in their products are small enough to be harmless.
Yeah maybe if you use them once a year!
I guess they never get out and see
that their products are being used
and combined with other products every day:
a little toxic dose under your arms,
a little more on your hair, on your lips.
And workers in nail and hair
salons get dosed all day long!
So the industry is used to doing things this way.
And they can,
because even now that scientists have linked
the chemicals they’re using to all sorts of
problems,
there are no laws to get rid of them.
You’re thinking – Really? Come on.
Nobody’s making sure that the stuff
we smear all over our bodies is safe?
No!
The FDA doesn’t even assess the safety of
personal care products, or their ingredients.
Since 1938,
they’ve banned just eight out of over
12,000 ingredients used in cosmetics.
They don’t even require that all of the
ingredients be listed on the label!
Now this is an example where we can all agree
a little more government action would be helpful!
This lack of regulation leaves a
huge hole that the cosmetics industry
is all too happy to fill.
They set up their own committee
to self-police their products.
And compliance with their
“recommendations” is voluntary!
So, the cosmetics industry is making the rules
and then deciding whether or not to follow them.
So, you see, it isn’t our fault that
these toxic products are in our bathrooms.
It’s a whole broken system
that’s ignoring the simple rule:
toxics in,
toxics out.
But we’re not helpless.
There are resources online that we can use
to protect ourselves by identifying the best
possible choices in the store.
But the real action is with people
working to change the system.
Because, if we really want to solve this problem,
we gotta start here
with these guys.
Women, parents, workers,
people all over the country
are demanding that Congress pass a new law
giving the FDA the power to make sure
that our personal care products are safe.
We need common-sense laws based
on the precautionary principle.
That means that when we’re
dealing with hazardous chemicals,
just err on the side of caution.
Let’s not debate how much lead
should be allowed in lipstick…
Just get toxic chemicals out of our products.
Smarter laws would force companies
to get past that old 50s mindset
and figure out how to get us all clean
and shiny without toxic chemicals.
Can they?
Totally.
Many responsible cosmetics companies are
already putting safer products on the market.
Green chemists are developing substances that are
designed to be safe and non-toxic in the first place.
European governments have required
the removal of many toxic chemicals
and companies have figured out how to comply.
When cosmetics are reformulated
to be safe and labeled honestly,
then we can feel comfortable with
the choices available at the store.
We can choose bouncy hair or full hair.
Shiny lipstick or matte.
We can even choose to feel beautiful
without using twenty products.
But we’ll know that whatever we choose,
the most important choice,
the choice to be safe and healthy,
has already been made.

100 Comments

  • Ashley ASHLEYM

    You breathe in a carcinogenic everyday, and it's consider vital to life. This carcinogenic is oxygen and yes oxygen has been shown to cause cancer. So every one stop freaking out, there's toxins in our bodies whether we use "safe" products or not, in fact our own cells produce things that can kill us if it's left in our bodies for a coupe minutes too long. Our body is actually pretty efficient at getting rid of these toxins, which is why we can drink alcohol which is a poison.

  • TheLovingR

    It's actually ironic that she says that her dry shampoo contains sodium laureth sulfate, that's the thing shampoos and other products like some toothpastes and showergel, makes it foamy. But dry shampoo doesn't need this.

  • 19Maria Torres

    Can some of these products be made without these dangerous chemicals? I'm curious to see if the reason they put these in there is because there is nothing else we can put in to make these products do their thing. If that's so, we can just stop using it right? We don't need make up (although, some might say it makes them feel good), but what about personal hygiene? Are we just supposed to have bad hygiene because we're afraid these chemicals will hurt us? I was just curious because I don't feel these topics were well explained in the video.

  • Ard Strating

    Great video! That's why I quit my job in the cosmetics and starting my own business with 100% organic cosmetics this year.

  • Kaushalya S

    great video… people here in India still use natural shampoo like 'shikakai',etc. and they are good but even they are getting contaminated. other alternatives are using soapnut fruits soaked overnight and using the foam next morning to wash the hair. people here in southern India (like Kerala) are known for great traditional herbal treatments and the southern people of India usually oil their hair with pure herbal stuff before washing their hair. so they are known for beautiful,dense thick hair here. apart from that proper food intake helps hair growth.

  • Makeup Royal Care Cosmetics

    Only this weekend you can get all you need with 15% discount RC Cosmetics Coupon 'Memory' IF you a professional Makeup Artist or just a makeup lover You have to get the right tools to achieve the perfect loo…

  • Nikki Diamond-Christudas

    Wonderful video! Thank you so much for making this. I have decided to stop dyeing my hair a year ago. I am reducing cosmetics and talking to my husband and others about it. We CAN make a difference

  • Modere Lifestyle

    We are a Global Company that seeks to deliver innovative products across essential lifestyle categories- personal care, health & wellness, and household care. Out products are better alternative. They are safe for you and they are safe for your family. But there’s more to Modere. We believe that you should be able to buy products that not only keep you safe, but that you can also have a brand that looks and feels amazing. That’s our promise. We are safe made sexy. As a brand designed to accentuate you, Modere is the perfect blend of purity and performance. Rest assured that with every Modere product you touch, you are at the intersection of safety and style; it doesn’t get any better. Shop with us @ modere.com and use the referral code 750962 to get $10 dollar off! (For the European market go to modere.eu and use the same referral code to get 10 Euro off).

  • lambchopxoxo

    The last time I used haircolor was March 2015. I was coloring my hair every week and a half just to keep the roots covered… it was pure insanity. I am so much happier, my hair is MUCH healthier and I have saved a ton of money not being a slave to color. 🙂

  • Ingrid Lemme

    I am so much healthier since I stopped using chemicals on and in my body! Never knew that plain vinegar works as deodorant! WOW!

  • Tara Baklund

    I think we have many more options in natural products since this video was made (great job BTW). We can really vote with our $ – where we choose to spend it! Buy from makers, producers, farmers whenever possible.

  • Brenda Davis

    Thats was really fun, I was taught and raised by a healthy mom support. For the past 9 yrs. I have been watching for ingredients. So I understand and agree. I will watch more of these products that r good for us. Compare our good products and yours. Thank you so much for putting this out there to educate people.

  • Beatrice Makokha

    The story of cosmetics is nerve wrecking especially when you see the intent behind the cosmetic production. It is government role to impose rules and regulations that must be followed by all producers. The strangest thing is that, when these companies are barred from one country, they relocate to another country and run the production even massively. Many are in East Africa where they corruptly bribe the governments  and force there power over the locals with government support over them. You see chemicals literally running through streams of little springs into the local communities zones especially the very disadvantaged people. The children play in it and the poor older communities walk through it unprotected. How SAD is this? Really absurd. Rules must be  imposed on companies interested in profit making other than welfare of peoples' being.  Before any production, awareness must be provided for the communities going to be involved. More so, the people going to buy these products. And government must stop favoring the rich against the majority poor. These is how we define and set standards that will give us good quality products beneficial to all people.

  • Ryan Thomas

    Thanks for taking the time to inform us (my wife and myself) about the toxic chemical found in common products. It's crazy to think that those in position to protect us are doing little, to nothing, to do the logical thing, which is to take these deadly chemicals out of our American Market. :/ God help us!

  • Priscilla Hardianto

    Remember to be a smart consumer! Avoid TOXIC chemicals, but this doesn't mean you need to avoid all chemicals altogether (after all, everything is a chemical). For instance, sodium chloride, which sounds very scary, is just soap! Just be sure to research the different ingredients you use. Some things sound scarier than they are, but some things sound less scary than they actually are!

  • Stephen Hinkle

    Believe me, Annie knows her stuff. She did a lot of research into this. She also collaborated with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which maintains a database of their own about which cosmetic products are safe and also reached out to scientists who know the ingredients.

  • St. Longinus

    If I have a choice, I choose organic products whenever possible. If others wish to use chemicals on their bodies, that's their choice.

  • antonio bortoni

    In USA one of two people will get cancer in their lifetime.
    You can change this now by living a more minimalistic lifestyle, eating only real food, nothing process by an evil corporation.
    Or by organizing and forcing your government into a better one.

  • Maureen O'Connor

    I am a late blooming licensed aesthetician. I can attest/ show you what cosmetics have done to/for me.
    MY quest is to educate myself, my family, my friends, and anyone else who is genuinely concerned about preserving her or his health. Most green advocates propose pressure on Washington. I put my faith in individual consumers first. Read the labels.
    Familiarize yourself with ingredients to avoid. Make the choice yourself. "Is this something I want to pour into my body?"
    Withhold your money from poison pushers! Question authority. (Doctors, including dermatologists who continue to prescribe this junk.)
    I do not look like this picture today. My face looks like a bad basketball. My hands and arms look 2 boiled twelve pound lobsters. Allergic Contact Dermatitis. I am highly allergic to fragrance (et.al.) These "safe cosmetics" have ruined my career as I knew it. Perhaps consumer awareness is my next gig.

  • Kat

    This video gives no real evidence, sigh. HOW is it linked to cancer?? Do u know breathing oxygen also causes cancer and aging? Should we stop breathing? It's undeniable there's some toxic stuff approved for use that shouldn't be there but it's not near as bad as this video implies. Plus my brain cells die every time sb says "chemicals" are bad. Do u know what this word means. Chemical substances. As in, every fucking thing in this world that's composed of more than just one type of atoms. So apples contain chemicals as well…,,,ehhh

  • Ken Klocke

    22 Cosmetics Companies File for ‘Trade Secret’ Status to Skirt Toxins Law

    Twenty-two companies have requested trade secret status to avoid telling the public about toxic chemicals found in nearly 1,500 cosmetic products included in the new California Safe Cosmetics Program Database. The database was released earlier this month as part of the state’s Safe Cosmetics Act, which requires companies to report ingredients in their cosmetic products that are considered carcinogens or reproductive toxins under Proposition 65.
    https://www.ecowatch.com/22-cosmetics-companies-file-for-trade-secret-status-to-skirt-toxins-la-1881858579.html (Toxic_22)

  • Aaron Toledo

    There is a push nowadays by a lot of people to be all "scientific" and demand statistics (which we all know are just a tool that can be manipulated to push an agenda). At the end of the day, it comes down to the individual consumer. I don't need a bunch of studies to tell me that certain stuff is bad…especially if exposed to it constantly.

    Do you really need scientific studies to tell you that eating those packaged cupcake snacks all the time are unhealthy?

  • 胡少卜

    值得分享,這也是為什麼我們致力於開發新穎性生物機能性材料,做全生物材料的產品。
    最乾淨、最自然、最愛桂仲萱~*
    Worth sharing.
    This is why we are committed to developing novel bio-functional materials, products was doing with whole biological materials.
    If you pursue nature, you can refer to GCXHerbs, we come from Taiwan.

  • Digi Silkroad

    What a great video to inform the public, I invite you to see other cosmetics products in our website #digisilkroad.com that presente #internationalexhibition around the world

  • dawadaddy

    Government? Laws? Not our fault?
    Being ignorant and running after how you look instead of how you feel is ONLY one's fault.
    Want to take the power into your own hands? Great! Stop using cosmetics (which are utterly useless) or if you are so addicted you can't stop using them – Learn how to make REAL natural, home made cosmetics.

    Haven't used any of these products in YEARS. Some I haven't used EVER. My kid learns not to use them, period.

    There you go. No need for laws. No need for governmental intervenience and all the power is in YOUR hands.

  • lesbian cactus

    This is why i don’t wash my face. I just put witch hazel where it should be. This is why I don’t shower every day and I don’t wash my whole body when I do. This is why I don’t use Neosporin or triple antibiotic. I use isopropyl alcohol, witch hazel, and hydrogen peroxide. This is why I don’t use perfumes, just deodorant. No thanks, nothing else for me!

  • MrJuicekrew

    What kind of lower species mongrel gives a video all about human's safety a thumbs down? There might be room to debate such findings but..a thumbs down? (smh) Humans are pre-programmed towards extinction.

  • Beautifully Brittle

    All I use is shampoo, conditioner, and deodorant. From time to time I'll wear makeup, but I never use hair spray or anything like that.

  • Wenkai Zhang

    so much bs I can't stand this uneducated woman… please study chemistry… hi, I am a PhD in Chemistry, worked in the industry to formulate chemicals and worked in cosmetic industry. I can tell you how much scientists put into formulating a safe ingredient list for a product. cancer risks are NOT SCIENTIFICALLY BACKED. For your information: SLS is not SLES. SLS is sodium lauryl sulphate and SLES is sodium laureth sulphate. They are both derived from coconut and SLES is non-drying. Both SLS and SLES are NOT linked to cancer. Sodium benzote is an anti-microbial, which keeps your product e-coli free. If you can't stand it, please just rub e.coli on your stupid face… You know, e.coli is 100% natrual.

  • Julita

    There is lots of good stuff available on the market. Who even buy the toxic cosmetics any more? The movie didn't mention important think – always buy cosmetics not tested on animals.

  • susan wallace

    This is sickening that we are being exposed to all these cancer causing ingredients each day!!!! THIS needs to be changed!!!

  • Judy Pokras

    This is SUCH an important video. I urge everyone to ask their congress people and senators to watch it and take action immediately. #BernieSanders

  • Judy Pokras

    I recommend a really pure line of skin care products, SanRe Organics. And no, I am not connected with them. I just love their products because they’re made with such pure ingredients.

  • Terry H

    I've been wondering if our beauty/hygiene products are linked to PCOS and other types of fertility issues. Almost every female I know is being diagnosed with PCOS. I know diet plays a huge role but that can't be all.

  • Nate B

    we do not need a law to make this happen, just consumer integrity.

    if people continue to purchase more of the products made with production practices they support, and less of the products made with production practices they do not support, the market, motivated by profit, will continue to respond by providing an ever growing number of desirable options, and in the end everyone wins and freedom prevails.

    also, isn't it more moral and ethical to just not participate in an industry you don't trust, instead of bringing down an authoritarian hammer on the entirety of a nation?

  • Sanura Moon Lifestyle

    I make all my skin care from nature. Its all we need. We have to work along with our natural environment and not against it. – Thank you for raising awareness, its well needed in this world today!

  • Natalie Trepanier

    While I agree with all this… I found that the small compagnies that sell cosmetics with organic and natural products often have very irritating product that also are armful for the skin a good exemple of this is the constant use of lavender and menthol. Lavender is a know irritent and it is also photosensitive… I try to avoid using cosmetics, but that might be to extreme for most…

  • Northern Tracey

    Animal testing has been used for decades to cover up dangerous ingredients. Please don't ask for more animal tests. Every chemical on the planet has already been tested on thousands of animals over and over again and they only use the results to avoid being sued. Companies like Laboratoire Garnier labelling a shampoo as 'vegan' is utterly crass and a lie.

  • xs_ fox

    You forgot the animal testing… I refuse to buy new stuff that is tested on animals which are like 90% of stuff i bought prior!

  • Maxine Satrape

    I Love this! Thank you for sharing education that includes community plus planet safety and health. <3

  • Tammy Corbett

    The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act was shut down as Industry groups fiercely opposed the bill claiming there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to support a ban on certain chemicals like asbestos and lead from personal care products. More and more consumers are becoming aware of toxins in their products as we see a rise in natural products. Birth Defect Research for Children shared an article that talks about the opposition of the bill. https://www.birthdefects.org/cosmetics-industry-crushes-toxic-free-bill/

  • The Story of Stuff Project

    What could go wrong if profit-driven corporations gained control your city's public water systems? Watch our latest animation, The Story of Water! 👉🏽 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04jTleV0gK0

  • Liam Birch

    Is alright I rub essential oils into my hair and face therefore I’ve sprouted a full head of hair a full beard gotten a six pack and cured my chemical castration

  • Σοφία Δομιανοπούλου

    Amazing channel! Thank you for mentioning always those guys who are voted to protect our rights but instead of that they work for big corporations! I try to change my consumerist habits but it's not enough to see a progress generally.

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