At U.S. PIRG, we aim to shift the personal care product industry toward a toxic-free future. To do this, we’re calling on the big-name beauty and personal care companies to protect their customers through better ingredient disclosure and safer ingredients. We’re also working to win policy changes at the local, state and federal level that provide consumers the right to know about and eliminate toxic ingredients from their cosmetic products. We identify areas for improvement, produce and share research and resources to help people protect themselves and call for change, and make policy recommendations to decision-makers. But we’re not the only ones out there advocating for beauty products that are safe for all.
Across the internet, clean beauty influencers, bloggers and vloggers are rising in popularity. These activists are helping make way for a toxic-free beauty future by sharing information, product and company recommendations across the virtual world. Their followers may seek them out because they’re looking for toxic-free, organic and sustainable beauty and lifestyle tips, or they may simply want to learn some new beauty tips, and along the way they happen to learn more about the toxic threats in “conventional” beauty products. This year, U.S. PIRG’s Make It Toxic-Free campaign is joining forces with some of these bloggers to expand the reach of our shared message: all consumers deserve to have safe beauty products.
To start, we caught up with Je’May Ward, a North Carolina native who just joined the clean beauty blogger scene last year.
Je’May became passionate about toxic-free beauty when she noticed that product labeling and marketing were confusing and misleading, leaving her feeling frustrated and poorly informed. Like many consumers, she didn’t know what terms like, “organic,” “dermatologist tested,” or “natural” meant in the context of cosmetic products. She looked into it, and what she found surprised her.
“From the outside, it appeared as if the products I was using seemed to be working, and little did I know my body was soaking up every little toxic chemical causing more harm than good...I didn’t want to act like the products I loved for so long were causing harm to my health, like increasing my risk for cancer, skin allergies, birth defects [in my future children], endocrine disruption, and skin aging, to name a few.”
Digging deeper, she learned why: beauty products undergo no pre-market review are hardly regulated at all. Je’May began to educate herself and tried to gain more control over what was in her beauty products. She started to research everything she could on clean beauty and started to learn which brands make safe products.
“I started sharing my clean beauty journey on my blog (www.jemayward.com) in hopes to inspire, educate and help people make the conscious decision to switch to clean, nontoxic beauty products! I understand that making the switch can seem overwhelming, expensive or daunting, but it doesn’t have to happen overnight!”
But like us at U.S. PIRG, Je’May knows that it shouldn’t be up to individual consumers to do all this research and make tough choices based on limited information, and people shouldn’t have to rely on helpful beauty bloggers like herself to protect themselves from toxic chemicals in beauty products. We should be able to trust that companies are putting their customers’ health first, and that our government is keeping them accountable.
“The U.S. [Congress] should take into more consideration the effects these ingredients are having on people and take action in banning them. Think about it: the last time Congress passed a major law in regards to the beauty industry was in 1938, before my grandma was born. The U.S has only 11 banned ingredients in cosmetics vs. Europe’s 1,300+...The numbers don’t lie!”
U.S. PIRG shares a vision with Je’May: Someday, all beauty and personal care products will be safe for everyone. “That is the future I want for all of us,” she writes. We hope that by reaching out to this space and finding more like-minded activists, we can reach more consumers who are looking for a path to a toxic-free future.
To learn more about Je’May’s work, check out her website: www.jemayward.com. Like Je’May and other beauty bloggers, U.S. PIRG believes it’s important to share helpful tips and guides for purchasing safer beauty products. Check out our guide to safe cosmetic shopping, and our guide to avoiding talc-based products.