In recent decades reproductive and developmental problems have become more prevalent—for example, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that male reproductive problems, including undescended testicles and hypospadias, doubled between 1970 and 1993. Environmental chemicals are strongly suspected to be contributing factors. Several recent reports highlight the presence of low-level concentrations of potential reproductive or developmental toxicants, particularly phthalates, in cosmetics and personal care products. A key question is whether these exposures are significant enough to cause harm.
In June 2004, Environment California issued Growing Up Toxic: Chemical Exposures and Increases in Developmental Diseases, which details chemicals found in consumer products and their potential health impacts. Other reports released around the same time by the Environmental Working Group (Skin Deep: A Safety Assessment of Ingredients in Personal Care Products) and Friends of the Earth (Shop Till You Drop? Survey of High Street Retailers on Risky Chemicals in Products 2003–2004) support Environment California’s publication.
According to these three reports, makeup, shampoo, skin lotion, nail polish, and other personal care products contain chemical ingredients that lack safety data. Moreover, some of these chemicals have been linked in animal studies to male genital birth defects, decreased sperm counts, and altered pregnancy outcomes. There is no definitive evidence for the same effects in humans, but widespread exposure, primarily to phthalates, has been shown to occur.
Phthalates, as key components in plastics, appear in many consumer products. The main phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products are dibutyl phthalate in nail polish, diethyl phthalate in perfumes and lotions, and dimethyl phthalate in hair spray. Often, their presence is not noted on labels.
“The concerns that are focused around this particular chemical [class] have arisen from a series of tests and studies that have been released recently that point to significant potential health concerns,” says Sujatha Jahagirdar, an environmental advocate with Environment California. For example, a population study conducted by the CDC and published in the March 2004 issue of EHP demonstrated that 97% of 2,540 individuals tested had been exposed to one or more phthalates. Another preliminary study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health and published in the July 2003 issue of EHP showed a correlation between urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and DNA damage in human sperm. However, exposure sources in this study were unknown.
The personal care industry remains confident about phthalate safety, however. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel, an independent research group sponsored by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association, published a detailed literature review in February 2003 that unequivocally states that current use of phthalates in cosmetics and personal care products is safe. Marian Stanley, manager of the Phthalate Esters Panel of the American Chemistry Council, says, “Some of these concerns [from environmental groups] are based on high-dose animal testing. The exposure that we really see in people—and we have the CDC numbers to back that up—is remarkably low. To us, why bother getting rid of a highly useful product when there should be no concern?”
Therein lies the controversy—environmental groups view the CDC data as evidence of widespread exposure, whereas industry groups view it as evidence of low-level exposure that falls well below amounts shown to cause problems in animal studies. The environmental groups respond that although it may be low-level exposure, it is chronic low-level exposure. Says Elizabeth Sword, executive director of the nonprofit Children’s Health Environmental Coalition: “In my view there is sufficient evidence to pique my concern, not only as a parent but as the executive director of this organization, to circulate this information directly to parents in a way that they can then make the healthiest decisions.”
However, consumers cannot make such judgments without knowing the ingredients contained in the products they use. “There are industry trade secrets and formulations that for industry reasons are kept from the consumer,” says Sword. “This prevents the consumer from making fully informed decisions.”
Environment California and the other environmental organizations hope to change that through consumer education and policy reform at the state and federal levels. “Environment California is pushing for a commonsense chemical policy that requires chemical manufacturers to test . . . their chemicals before they are released into the market and also provide the public with the tools that it needs to protect itself from potential dangerous impacts,” says Jahagirdar. “Labeling is an extremely important and ethical thing for manufacturers to be doing.”
“I think a lot of this comes down to an individual’s acceptance of risk,” says Sword. “[Each person’s] personal risk tolerance is different. I think what we as a society need to feel confident about is that adults will at least make better decisions if you give them a way to do so, particularly when the health of a child may be at risk from making a bad decision.”
Starting too young? Concern is mounting over the effects of long-term exposures to chemicals—such as phthalates—found in cosmetics and personal care products.
Essay/Term paper: Make-up art cosmetics
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Make-Up Art Cosmetics
Make-up Art Cosmetics, also known as M.A.C. cosmetics is a highly unique
corporation. Its founders and business strategies are rather simple yet
extremely effective in contributing to the companies success. The company does
not use any fancy business schemes and it is truly concerned with its consumers.
In the beginning, the company struggled to get started, but now a multimillion
dollar (and still growing) enterprise, M.A.C. probably has some of the most
popular and most demanded for cosmetics available in the market. M.A.C.
Cosmetics is a dynamic company which produces skin and hair care, beauty
products, and cosmetics, created for everyone. Rich and poor, old or young,
conservative or trendy and even for males or females. Sales for M.A.C. are
growing rapidly. From 1985 ($600 000) to 1989 ($3 million), sales were steady.
Then in 1990 the money really started to pour in, hitting $8.5 million then $18
million in1991. Last years sales (1996) were $70 million and now this years'
estimations are a substantial $160 million. There are currently 108 locations
between Canada, the U.S., and Europe, with extreme success in London, England.
Although the company could easily expand to may more locations, the company
would prefer not to, at least no so fast. They believe that in order to
maintain high levels of quality, staying in control, (which means going slowly)
is the key. Frank Toskan, 45, founder and CEO of Make-up Art Cosmetics, was
previously a Canadian hairstylist, make-up artist and photographer, who
developed his own professional cosmetics because he felt that the existing lines
couldn't link with the harsh lighting used in photography, stage , film and
video work. Over the last 10 years, 160 shades of lipsticks in 7 different
finishes, 150 eye shadows, 60 blushes and hair care have been created for the
public. Toskan first started at his kitchen table with the help of his high
school chemistry book. With Victor Casale, his chemist brother-in-law, he
blended a few new colours. One year later, Toskan formed a partnership with
Frank Angelo, a veteran entrepreneur (previous owner of a chain of beauty
salons). At first they were turned down by banks, they had to mortgage
everything in order to get the company going. M.A.C. was officially launched in
1985, in an old, run-down location in Toronto (Cabbagetown). For years M.A.C.
was looked upon as too 'weird.' In1988, Toskan and Angelo had to beg downtown
Simpsons -now the Hudson's Bay Company, to take their line of products. They
were given a small corner and it soon became the most popular counter in the
department store. Currently there are 23 M.A.C. Counters in Bay stores across
Canada. Eaton's originally turned them away and now the partners won't deal
with them. The company hires people based on creative talent, not looks; a
novel tactic for this industry. Toskan is quoted saying:
"I don't have the luxury of communicating with my clients,
so therefore my salespeople are the link between my
philosophy and their customers."
M.A.C. reps behave more like friends or confidants than product pushers.
Without having company sales pressure, the laid-back management resulted in a
retail staff turnover of less than 7% last year.
M.A.C. Cosmetics has a great position on corporate and social
responsibility. The public image of this business is supported, due to many
different surroundings. M.A.C. is "cruelty-free" and does not test its products
on animals. They use simple black and white (recyclable) packaging and they
encourage Recycling with the "Back-to-Mac" programme. Customers are given a
free lipstick of their choice with the return of six empty containers. The
company offers good prices compared to other 'big name' companies without any
false promises such as miracle (age reducing) creams. While some companies may
be nervous about linking their names to the specter of illness and death, M.A.C.
is upfront in promoting its support of the fight against AIDS, with its popular
lipstick -'Viva Glam,' 1992 (which also come with a condom) donated to various
AIDS organizations. In Oct. 1995, M.A.C. launched a charity lipstick for $16:
$6 of which, went to the breast cancer research. They also mix custom products
to match the needs of cancer and burn victims on the allergenically challenged.
Just recently M.A.C. introduced the "Kid's helping Kids" which, with the sale of
greeting cards (painted by the kids) will be donated to pediatric organizations.
M.A.C. Cosmetics has undertaken many strategies which resulted in the
successfulness of the company. Toskan and Angelo had their business strategy
figured out. At first they'd sell their make-up to professional stylists and
artists and go on from there. Since make-up artists apply cosmetics to
actresses and to models, this genius idea set a trend as it was featured in
popular shows and/or movies and loved and utilized by favorite actresses. M.A.C.
Cosmetics has never tried to target a certain group. Toskan planned to create
every shade possible in order to offer a wide variety of shades for each
individual. Without a single ad campaign, M.A.C. does not advertise because
they do not believe that slogans are as explicit or as effective. They do not
want to have to tell someone to buy their products. They also don't want to put
a idealized corporate face on their product. They don't wan to make a women
feel like she has to buy this product. Toskan brings a fresh new commitment
to the business of beauty.
"This industry has a history of digging into peoples pockets
and taking advantage. I am interested in giving back to the
M.A.C. Cosmetics also uses a word of mouth strategy (which apparently works).
It only takes a few women to tell their friends how much they like a certain
powder or certain lip gloss before they're all racing to the counters.
"You don't really have to spend on advertising, yet your products
on everybody's lips."
Literally. Everyday, this company comes one step closer to its ultimate goal of
providing the utmost value for its customers. M.A.C. works from an inverted
pyramid - where the customers are always at the top. It is the customers who
inspire Toskan and the company. This, along with the staff motivates him, not
"We didn't get into this business to make bags of money, or to
have mass-consumer appeal, we just wanted to find the right colours."
In the future they M.A.C. plan on opening locations in Hong Kong, the Far East,
and more in Europe. Now in a joint venture with the U.S.'s largest privately
owned cosmetics firm (Estee Lauder), M.A.C. will distribute products in overseas
markets. With each and every goal M.A.C. is soon to be destined to hit the top.
M.A.C. Cosmetics' reasons for all its plans are derived from the fact
that it is the 90's. There are many serious issues and many different needs
required today. Everyone is an individual, and this company sees that, and
deliberately tries not to exclude anyone. Some trends are also created by the
media exposure. The media has so much to do with what's in and what's out. But
ultimately it is up to the consumer who decides.
The products of Canada's Make-up Art Cosmetics, inspires devotion in
many people, particularly the young and the glamorous. This is why a firm that
started less than 15 years ago, created a product on a stove in a Toronto
apartment had $70 million in sales last year. (1996) It has been the cause of
more than a few envious looks by established cosmetic companies. The incredable
entrepreneur behind this companies' success, often had a sense for smelling
trends before the rest of the industry catches on. One of the remarkable
aspects of the success of M.A.C. Cosmetics is the way the company has grown
without the conversational help of big advertising campaigns, spokespersons or
other big kinds of promotional gimmicks. This high quality company shows that
advertising is not always needed. Being true to the customer and serving their
needs brings success. This company is a leader and never follows what other
companies do. Success can be found in many different ways, keeping in mind
innovation and constant creation (of new ideas). M.A.C. is known to be an
honest, caring and different company that strives to make the consumer happy
and satisfied, while always remaining concerned with its social
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