According to Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, women use an average of about a dozen products a day and men use about six. Teenagers use a lot more. The problem is, most of us have no idea about the toxic and dangerous chemicals many of these products contain.
My morning routine doesn't vary much. I peel my eyes open, accompanied by the blaring of the alarm next to my ear, and eject myself brutally from under the warm bed covers to totter blearily to the bathroom. Once there, I lather, slather, dust, primp, tweeze and fluff.
Within the first half hour of waking I have already applied toothpaste, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body moisturiser, cleanser, toner, face cream, deodorant, concealer, face powder, mascara, lipstick, leave-in conditioner, hairspray and pomade. In my case, I know that each and every one of these products is free from harmful ingredients, as are all the products available on our website.
Unfortunately there are still many other people who are unaware of the dangerous ingredients in many of their favourite cosmetics. From our teenage years onwards we are accustomed to using a wide range of beauty products every day – so much so, that we don't even think about it, much less think about the chemical ingredients of said products.
According to Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, women use an average of about a dozen products a day and men use about six. Teenagers use a lot more. Recalling her own teen beauty routine, Malkan admits she exposed herself to 230 chemicals before even getting on the school bus. Amongst these were 17 carcinogens, 24 endocrine disruptors and 15 different kinds of fragrance.
Malkan, a former journalist, has spent many years working with Health Care Without Harm, a global coalition working to reduce pollution in the healthcare sector. This is where she first learned of the dangers lurking in everyday products and made the connection with her own zealous use of beauty products as a teenager.
Together with researchers from the Environmental Working Group, she formed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics; a coalition of health, labour, environmental and consumer-rights groups. From lead in our lipsticks to poison in our perfume, Stacy and her colleagues have been fighting since 2002 to protect people around the world from the risks of toxic chemicals in cosmetics.
I was lucky enough to interview Stacy recently in my role as beauty editor of Peppermint Magazine, the Aussie eco-style and beauty bible. Stacy told me that the US cosmetics industry is effectively self-regulating in terms of the safety of cosmetics ingredients - and, worryingly - the situation is much the same in Australia. Companies here are not required to conduct safety assessments of chemicals or products and neither do they have to list all the ingredients on labels, due to huge loopholes in labeling laws.