Are Cosmetics Really Toxic?
What We Need To Know To Understand
What We Are Putting On Our Bodies

Buying Cosmetics

With all the recent press on both the health and safety of our personal care products as well as the limited FDA regulations on labeling them, the average consumer is both disillusioned and concerned. This consumer is however helping to create the necessary change needed for the cosmetic industry.

Cosmetic sales are projected to reach 9.9 billion dollars in the US by 2016. And the largest contributor to this growth will come from products touting “natural” and “organic”. This section in particular has boomed in the past ten years. Small companies “known” for producing all natural products are quickly being gobbled up by large firms, from Shiseido’s acquisition of Bare Essentials to Clarins’ acquisition of the French organic brand Kibio. These two examples are only the most recent in a slew of acquisitions. Additionally with Johnson’s & Johnsons announcement that they are removing certain chemicals from their baby products by end of 2013 and then, do to the positive feedback from that announcement adding the removal of a “host of potentially harmful chemicals, like formaldehyde, from it’s line of consumer products by the end of 2015”, even the biggest players in the cosmetic industry are vying for a place in the natural market. With Johnson’s & Johnsons positive feed back both Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble made similar announcements. What this shows is that the market for natural skincare products is gaining momentum, and mainstream companies want a piece of it.

Just as exciting chemists and raw ingredient suppliers are trying to keep up with all the natural demands. This year, the Society Of Cosmetic Chemists had a holistic symposium at their annual convention. I was honored that they choose me as the keynote speaker addressing and representing the natural/green beauty market. I was excited to have this topic be the center of the convention as this is a big step for mainstream chemists to recognize the need and pull in their industry to have authentic natural alternatives. These chemists and cosmetic industry executives know, in order to keep current and offer what their customers and consumers are after and to grow their business they will have to know how to formulate natural products, understand what this new consumer wants and where this sector of the industry is going. With the projections in sales for the natural sector being the fastest growing part of the personal care industry, they cannot afford to miss out. Natural cosmetics is a topic I am so passionate about, I was thrilled to be the keynote speaker for The Society Of Cosmetic Chemists as the natural industry representative. It is an honor to be the voice of what is truly natural, how to formulate natural, what the consumer looking for and how to meet their demands in a sea of miss information. The prospect of lecturing to the most influential chemists and executives is both exciting and groundbreaking for clean cosmetics. The power the consumer (and non stop media attention) has driven to the cosmetic industry is proof that consumers can, and do make change.  The impact is just beginning and we have a lot of work in an effort to keep the momentum up.

Paraben, sulfate and formaldehyde-free label claims have peaked consumer interest and paved the way for buying and green marketing trends. While some cosmetic companies, industry organizations and chemists claim that cosmetics will kill you and the planet and others that there is no harm in anything we are putting on our skin, it is no wonder the consumer is confused. When we are an industry that has such opposing views, it is obvious why the consumer does not have a clear picture and is looking for accurate answers. What would the average consumer think if they saw the material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) on all the ingredients in their skin care. Should these be part of the information we offer at purchase, online?

Savvy consumers are demanding facts and truths and rejecting misleading label claims and green-washing. Trust, integritytransparency and honest claims that match products will become imperative for brands to compete in this market. Claims such as 100% pure or environmentally sound will be questioned with the more educated, savvy consumer.

In the coming years, the battleground will be complicated, huge cosmetic brands will continue to reformulate to please mainstream America, while the consumer becomes more educated and is looking for authenticity in claims and reformulations. The opportunities for sales in this sector will get bigger and bigger and everyone is trying to find a niche. While carving this place in the market, brands need to be aware of the consumers continuing educational growth, desire for truth, integrity and full disclosure to maintain market status and sales.

Currently the power is in the hands of the packaging. What the box says, the customer is buying. The consumer thinks if it is paraben-free, it is good, not investigating exactly what is in it. However, the power is shifting because consumers want more information. As we have seen the natural sector of the food industry skyrocket, we have seen the education of that consumer skyrocket as well. The consumer is doing their part to make the shift and it is now up to us in the industry to get the proper information and education available to them.

In the battle to understand just want is in your bottle of shampoo and how it affects you I am continually encouraging consumers to seek out accurate information and educate themselves. With knowledge comes power. The power to buy what you believe is safe and non-toxic. We are seeing these educated consumers and the choices they are making, shifting what companies are disclosing and what chemicals they are willing to use in an effort to stay viable. The conversation has started, the education has begun, but there is a long way to go and education of the consumer from reliable sources will be key. Most importantly, your spending is creating a change. We are seeing the consumer make a difference, this is an impact that is not only impressive, and it is within your power to create this positive change. It is encouraging to witness consumers keeping the pressure on and the change happening.

In good health,


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  • The Eczema Company

    We know to look out for paraben and SLS, etc, but when we dig deeper into products that are organic, sometimes we can find products that aren’t really natural – too refined and processed, which removes so much of the good stuff. So, it’s imporant to note that organic doesn’t always mean healthy or natural.