Safe cosmetics must cause no harm to health nor poison the planet.
The non-profit EcoWaste Coalition today made a pitch for safe cosmetics that pose no threats to human health and the environment on the eve of Valentine’s Day, a well-liked time for giving romantic beauty gifts.
Through an event dubbed as Miss Toxic Pretty 2018, the EcoWaste Coalition, in collaboration with the Manila Science High School (MSHS), staged an advocacy pageant attended by close to 300 Grade 9 consumer chemistry students to promote critical reflection and thinking about the purchase and use of personal care and cosmetic products.
The event came on the heels of a recent investigation by the group indicating the unabated sale of banned imported mercury-tainted skin whitening cosmetics in the local market and in online shopping sites.
“We have mounted this pageant to draw attention to cosmetic product ingredients that may cause serious health problems to consumers and the ecosystems and thus should be totally avoided,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Chemicals associated with mental retardation, neurological and behavioral disorders, endocrine disruption, reproductive harm and cancer, as well as those that pollute the oceans and poison aquatic life, have no place in one’s beauty and hygiene routine,” he pointed out.
“Given the continued trade in counterfeit and hazardous cosmetics, we ask consumers to press for full information on chemicals in cosmetic products, including their health and environmental effects,” he added.
The pageant, which opened with the song “Toxic” by Britney Spears, drew youthful candidates representing cosmetic ingredients of concern, namely, Miss Lead, Miss Mercury, Miss Triclosan, Miss Isobutyl Paraben, Miss Dibutyl Phthalate,and Miss Plastic Microbeads.
These cosmetic ingredients are either banned or restricted under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ASEAN, European Union and/or US regulations.
Mr. Emil Virtudes, President and Chairman of the Board of the Chamber of Cosmetics Industry of the Philippines, and Ms. Maria Eva Nacion, Principal of MSHS, graced the fun but educational Miss Toxic Pretty pageant.
During the pageant proper, the audience also had the opportunity to watch the seven-minute film “The Story of Cosmetics,” which examines the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in personal care products, and the two-minute film “The Story of Microbeads,” which discusses how plastic particles in cosmetics are dirtying the oceans.
The Miss Toxic Pretty pageant concluded with the candidates eagerly responding to the questions that delved on a range of issues, including the consumer right to product information, consumer access to non-hazardous products to teenage views on “kutis-artistahin” and “brown is beautiful.”
To reduce toxic exposures, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to carefully read product labeling information, shun products with incomplete facts and misleading claims, select those with simpler and fewer synthetic compounds, and buy notified products that have passed the FDA’s quality and safety verification procedures.
Lead is a harmful ingredient in some lipsticks that is particularly toxic to the brain and the central nervous system. While the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD) limit for lead in cosmetics is 20 parts per million (ppm) maximum, the EcoWaste Coalition has found unregistered lipsticks with lead content as high as 18,500 ppm.
Exposure to mercury in some skin whitening products may result to skin rashes, discoloration and scarring, decreased dermal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections, and kidney damage. Even though the ACD limits mercury in trace amount of one ppm, the EcoWaste Coalition has detected outrageous concentrations of mercury in dozens of contraband skin whitening cosmetics, including one with 96,100 ppm of mercury.
While still permitted as an anti-bacterial agent in the Philippines, the US FDA has banned triclosan, its chemical cousin triclocarban and 17 other chemical ingredients in hand and body washes starting September 2017.
The Philippine FDA, following the 2014 decision by the ASEAN Cosmetic Committee, banned isobutyl paraben and four other related preservatives, namely benzyl, isopropyl, phenyl and pentyl parabens, effective January 2016.
Also, the Philippine FDA in 2015 banned an artificial nail adhesive containing dibutyl phthalate, which is listed among the substances that “must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products” under the ACD.
While still allowed in the Philippines, the US federal law Microbead-Free Waters Act banned plastic microbeads, which refer to any solid plastic particle less than 5 mm in size, in personal care and cosmetic products from July 2017.
Reference to cited cosmetics regulations: