As consumers become more and more educated about beauty products and ingredients, they’re also demanding more transparency from companies to disclose what’s in the products they use.
Unfortunately, the personal care industry has never had too much incentive to come clean about what’s in their products, as it’s largely unregulated.
To help consumers cut through the label clutter, Washington D.C.–based non-profit, Environmental Working Group, launched a new label this month called EWG Verified, which certifies personal care products as free from toxic ingredients.
“Eco-labeling is a critical step in the regulation of the private sector, and third party labels are generally more trustworthy than the industry’s self-certified labels,” Xinghua Li, a professor of media studies at Babson College, who researches green advertising tells The Guardian. “The cosmetic industry needs it just as urgently as the food industry: Products we put on our skin are just as important as the food we put into our mouths.”
In fact, The New York Times reported that in recent weeks, two separate major medical organizations have issued warnings about toxic chemicals in products disrupting the endocrine system and linking to cancer, obesity, diabetes and infertility, although the article did not specifically site cosmetics.
In order to meet the EWG Verified label, product ingredients are checked against a database of chemicals and must not contain anything on the EWG’s list of restricted and unacceptable ingredients. Ingredients on those lists have either been banned by the U.S. or international government and public health agencies, such as the World Health Organization.
Companies must also disclose each and every ingredient in the product, and not rely on ambiguous groupings of ingredients such as “fragrance.”
Ken Cook, EWG president and cofounder, says, “EWG Verified goes beyond basic ingredient labels to hold companies on the cutting edge of making the healthiest products to an even higher standard. Our mark will make shopping even easier for overwhelmed consumers who want to quickly find a bottle of shampoo or a tube of toothpaste that is better for their health.” In addition to providing an independent resource for consumers, the EWG also hopes that the verification mark will encourage companies to reformulate their products to be safer.
The EWG also maintains a Skin Deep database, where consumers can check up to 64,000 cosmetics product for different levels of hazard.
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