Monday, October 29, 2007

Toxic Beauty

You are probably somewhat aware of potentially dangerous chemicals and how to avoid them when you clean your home, but what about the chemicals you use to clean and beautify yourself? Alternet is featuring an interview with author Stacy Malkan (excerpted below), who provocatively compares toxins in personal care products to global warming. Think this doesn't apply to you if you are a man? Think again--men are exposed to these chemicals through shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, after shave, etc.
Carcinogens in cosmetics? Petrochemicals in perfume? If only this were an urban legend. Unfortunately, it's a toxic reality, and it's showing up in our bodies.
In 2004, scientists found pesticides in the blood of newborn babies. A year later, researchers discovered perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, in human breast milk. Today, people are testing positive for a litany of hazardous substances from flame retardants to phthalates to lead.
In her new book, Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, Stacy Malkan exposes the toxic chemicals that lurk, often unlabeled, in the personal care products that millions of American women, men and children use every day.
AlterNet spoke with Malkan about these toxins and her five-year effort with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to get the beauty industry to remove them from its products.
Heather Gehlert: There are so many environmental issues you could've written a book about. Why cosmetics?
Stacy Malkan: I think cosmetics is something that we're all intimately connected to. They're products that we use every day, and so I think it's a good first place to start asking questions. What kinds of products are we bringing into our homes? What kinds of companies are we giving our money to?
It has something pretty interesting in common with global warming too.
It does. I think of it as global poisoning. I think that the ubiquitous contamination of the human species with toxic chemicals is a symptom of the same problem (as global warming), which is an economy that's based on outdated technologies of petrochemicals -- petroleum. So many of the products we're applying to our faces and putting in our hair come from oil. They're byproducts of oil.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at discounts on energy saving products at

1 comment:

chloe said...

Dear Pastor Denise,

Thanks for posting on this issue. Yes we need to be good stewards of our bodies, as well as creation- as the two are linked. The National Council of Churches is now working to educate people of faith about environmental health issues. We now have a series of web pages focused on toxics and pollution on our website: .
We also have a new worship, education, and action resource on the topic at .
I would love to talk with you more about it sometime.