No important change happens overnight, and most movements start with an individual. The Breast Cancer Fund brings this to life with its mission to expose and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer to stop the disease before it starts. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics—a project of the Breast Cancer Fund—has been at it since 2004, educating millions of people about toxic chemicals in cosmetics in order to apply pressure and force industry-wide change.
One statistic to contextualize the issue: European law bans or restricts 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm or birth defects. Comparatively, the US has only banned or restricted 11 chemicals from cosmetics. But cosmetics aren’t the only issue—the entire personal care industry needs to change—and breast cancer’s not the only serious disease linked to the untested chemicals that can be found in the cosmetic products we use every day.
Tata references her Colombian heritage and Latin beauty culture to explain how many products her family was using at the time that her stepfather was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors couldn’t explain it aside from high toxicity levels in his blood, and encouraged a careful ingredient examination around the products they were putting on their bodies every day. The inception of Tata Harper started here.
The realization that the coveted beauty products we trust the most could be contributing to life-threatening levels of toxicity activated a complete lifestyle change for Tata. The challenge? The market didn’t offer any non-toxic alternatives that could deliver the results she expected. Tata Harper Skincare’s mission has always been to fill that need.
The work that the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics continues to do is incredibly impactful and dear to our hearts. The issue of harmful ingredients in our everyday products is complex and confusing, and individual Americans don’t always have the time or resources to affect change by themselves.
We checked in with the Campaign to see how progress is going with the Federal Personal Care Product Safety Act that was introduced in spring of 2015. Sara Schmidt, Breast Cancer Fund’s Outreach and Organizing Manager, explained that BCF is pushing for the the bill to be strengthened by the Senate HELP Committee; “The issue is a bit nuanced right now: Folks don’t know that cosmetics aren’t really regulated, so they assume that any bill doing so is a good thing. But the Feinstein bill has some real issues we want to address before it goes much further.”
Some of these issues include:
- Closing a loophole that exempts fragrance and flavors from ingredient disclosure, which means the FDA will be getting incomplete information from manufacturers, and therefore won’t be able to effectively regulate cosmetic ingredient safety. Some egregious synthetic chemical offenders can be found in “fragrance” ingredients—like phthalates.
- Closing a labeling loophole that allows fragrance houses to keep their chemical concoctions secret—40% of personal care products include synthetic fragrance so this is a major problem.
- Ensuring consumers have easy access to reports filed with the FDA regarding cosmetic products that are causing adverse health effects.
- Ensuring the FDA has clear authority to recall cosmetic products that are dangerous or adulterated.
- Strengthening the bill’s definition of what it means for a cosmetic ingredient to be considered “safe.”
We’re grateful, inspired, and humbled by the work that the Breast Cancer Fund’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is doing on behalf of consumers like us. They’re defending our wellbeing in regards to an issue that most of us don’t even know we need help with. Is that the qualification of a guardian angel?
Author: Tata Harper Team
The team at Tata Harper Skincare is passionate about promoting a modern, health-conscious natural beauty lifestyle that’s committed to safety, honesty and sustainability.