There is so much information out there on the internet all claiming to be “The Source” for accurate, unbiased data. Who should you turn to in order to get accurate information on the safety of cosmetic ingredients? Honestly, it shouldn’t be me or any company that has a vested interest in the cosmetics you purchase. It should not be a watch group that declares themselves the authority of what is safe for everyone in world. Saying you are looking out for the best interests of consumers and not your own agenda is lip service. It simply isn’t enough anymore.
Skin Deep Is Not So Deep
“The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is working with endorsing organizations, responsible businesses and thousands of citizen activists to shift the cosmetics market toward safer products and to advocate for smarter laws that protect our health from toxic chemicals and encourage innovation of safer alternatives.”
That is what they say. Here are some facts and history.
Many cosmetics companies, including ours, signed on to the Campaign in the early days because we thought their stated goal was in fact their goal. In other words, we and hundreds of other companies took them at their word. Now thousands of small businesses have started up in the past 15 years with the single goal to create safe cosmetics. This movement has created the “natural & organic” personal care tidal wave that is sweeping the world today and that is exactly what we are all doing still today.
However, Skin Deep/EWG is misusing information that it has collected from unsuspecting companies like ours and others to panic consumers about embellished or completely fabricated dangers.
Sure, we can formulate a new product every time they sound the alarm, but we are already using the safest ingredients available. If we reformulate based on incorrect data from Skin Deep/EWG, we would quit using safe ingredients and chose unsafe ones that are condoned by Skin Deep/EWG.
I’m in the business of formulating safe cosmetics, not being jerked around by bad science.
The Danger of False Alarms
Skin Deep/EWG is in the habit of pulling false fire alarms. When they have been challenged in the past about inaccuracies in their ingredient scoring, they claim that they don’t have access to all the information and/or they can’t possibly research every lead. I believe it is their responsibility to get all the information, spend as much time as needed to thoroughly research and follow every lead. This is especially critical because they are appointing themselves as the one stop reliable source for such information.
They can’t have it both ways.
For example, all of the information I found and used in my blog post about The Real Truth About Cocamidopropyl Betaine was public information. And a team of two of us spent the better part of three days researching accuracy and details. It was worth every minute because I believe consumers have a right to facts to make good decisions.
Skin Deep/EWG could have done the same thing, if they really wanted to be accurate and authentic in telling consumers the truth. The danger of them failing to conduct adequate research is that consumers are not armed with good information. And when false alarms are sounded, the damage is done immediately and it’s difficult if not impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.
The Fine Print
Skin Deep has a disclaimer on its database and consumers would benefit greatly from taking their disclaimer to heart. It says:
“The chart below indicates that research studies have found that exposure to this ingredient — not the products containing it — caused the indicated health effect(s) in the studies reviewed by Skin Deep researchers. Actual health risks, if any, will vary based on the level of exposure to the ingredient and individual susceptibility — information not available in Skin Deep.”
Commonly, the biggest problem with the information is that the warnings come from MSDS that are designed to give safe handling techniques for the 100% undiluted form of the ingredient.
But consumers are never exposed to undiluted ingredients so tests on them are meaningless. And therein lies the rub. And there’s more.
Consumers never apply a patch of the undiluted ingredient to their skin for 2 to 30 days like some of the tests Skin Deep refers to. Consumers never ingest the tested ingredients and they are not injected with them. None of it is ever left undiluted and unrinsed while being poured directly in their eyes. Yet these are the very testing methods misused by Skin Deep/EWG to scare consumers.
There is no correlation between tests done on an ingredient for internal use and the exposure of a diluted ingredient in topical use. The fact that Skin Deep/EWG makes it appear that with their ranking system that so many products on the market will seriously cause you harm is so misleading and in my opinion slanderous at best and “tortious interference” at worst.
The Cosmetic Review Panel
The mission of the CIR Panel is: “Mission: The Cosmetic Ingredient Review thoroughly reviews and assesses the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics in an open, unbiased, and expert manner, and publishes the results in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.”
The CIR Expert Panel is made up of these voting members:
- Wilma F. Bergfeld, M.D., F.A.C.P., Head of Clinical Research and Dermatopathology, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- Donald V. Belsito, M.D., Clinical Professor, Medicine (Dermatology), University of Missouri, Ronald A. Hill, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Department of Basic Pharaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, The University of Louisiana at Monroe
- Curtis D. Klaassen, Ph.D., University Distinguished Professor and Chair, Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutics, School of Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center
- Daniel C. Liebler, Ph.D., Director, Jim Ayers Institute for Precancer Detection and Diagnosis, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, Professor of Biochemistry, Pharmacology and Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- James G. Marks, Jr., M.D., Professor of Dermatology, Chairman of the Department of Dermatology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
- Ronald C. Shank, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Community and Environmental Medicine, Director, Environmental Toxicology Program, University of California
- Thomas J. Slaga, Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology, University of Texas Health Science Center
- Paul W. Snyder, D.V.M., Ph.D., School of Veterinary Medicine Department of Veterinary Patholobiology, Purdue University
Liaison Members with no voting power:
- Rachel Weintraub, Esq., Consumer Federation of America
- John E. Bailey Ph.D., Executive Vice President-Science, Personal Care Products Council
- Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., Food and Drug Administration, Office of Cosmetics and Colors.
Those are the people with the credentials and expertise to back up their tests, their test methodologies and their conclusions. They don’t have a dog in the fight, they are not paid by “endorsing organization” and they are willing to list their names publicly because the practices they use to determine the safety of cosmetic ingredients are scientific and thorough. Unlike Skin Deep, whose experts are questionable at best, give the poor science they use and the activist scare tactics that have and continue to damage businesses around the country. To learn more about the CIR Expert Panel click here.
Given a choice of which “expert” group to get information from I throw my hat in with the CIR Expert Panel! How about you, who do you believe and why?