Category Archives: Pretty Price Check

Pretty Price Check (07.22.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Story of Cosmetics

Just a quick price check today, to say a big happy birthday to the Story of Cosmetics video and No More Dirty Looks (the book!), both of which turned one year old this week!

I know we’ve spent a lot more time talking body image lately, but the eco-health risk of beauty products is an issue still close to my hear. Because the industry is not always so straight-up with us about what’s really going on. And that means we just don’t know enough about the toll these products are taking on our friends in the beauty industry, especially nail salon workers — as well as beauty consumers like you (hi, Brazilian Blowout).

The good news is that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 has just been reintroduced to Congress — and it has a few key improvements over last year’s edition (which, if you ask me, was already a heck of a good start!). Here’s the scoop on the new bill, from my peeps at the Story of Stuff:

When we released The Story of Cosmetics a year ago this week to rally support for the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, we weren’t terribly surprised when the Personal Care Products Council—an industry front group—called the movie “a repugnant and absurd shockumentary.” After all, for years the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry had been

largely left alone to decide what was safe to put in their products. You know, things like lead in lipstick. Neurotoxins in body spray. Carcinogens in baby wash.

Why ruin a good thing, right?

But we were taken aback by the number of small personal care products manufacturers who raised concerns about the Safe Cosmetics Act, which would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients and that ingredients are fully disclosed.

Tens of thousands of Americans run small personal care product businesses—making everything from soap to hand cream. Many of the owners of these companies have experienced health issues from personal care products they used themselves, experiences that inspired them to make some of the most healthy products on the market. Quite a number of these companies had been supporters of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics—the co-producer of our movie—with many signing the Campaign’s Compact for Safe Cosmetics pledge.

In response, our partners at the Campaign launched a year-long effort to understand the concerns of these small personal care businesses. Campaign staff held in person meetings and organized phone calls. Rather than dismiss the criticism as the work of a small but vocal group or impugn their motives, the Campaign listened and brought their suggestions to the bill authors.

Then this spring, the sponsors of the Safe Cosmetics Act—Representatives Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin—went to work to come up with a version of the bill that addressed small business concerns, which centered around the proposed FDA registration process and fees, which the mom and pop shops felt would overwhelm their businesses. The result is the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, which exempts businesses with under $2 million in sales from registering and exempts businesses with under $10 million in revenue from the fees mandated in the bill but still ensures that cosmetics ingredients are safe for consumers, workers and the environment.

It turns out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ hard work is not only good politics, it’s good news for all of us.

Current law—if you can call a bill last updated in 1938 ‘current’—allows the cosmetics industry to make its own decisions about what’s safe. The FDA can’t require companies to assess cosmetics ingredients for safety and can’t require that all the chemicals in cosmetics are disclosed to consumers. It can’t even require product recalls—as we recently learned when a popular hair straightener, called the Brazilian Blowout, was found to contain dangerous levels of formaldehyde.

Still, if the small business support for this year’s bill is any indication—not to mention the almost 800,000 views on The Story of Cosmetics over the past year—the public is ready to give the beauty industry a makeover.

This week, shortly after the bill was reintroduced, the 1,600 member Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild released a statement supporting the bill, as did a major ingredient supplier, Wholesale Supplies Plus. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the top-selling natural brand of certified Fair Trade soap, issued a press release calling on Congress to pass the bill, and the WS Badger Company has penned the helpful piece, “Five Reasons Why the Safe Cosmetics Act Makes Sense for Small Businesses”. Look for more business support coming soon.

So celebrate a cleaner beauty industry by telling your Congresspeople to support the new Safe Cosmetics Act
and checking out the so-awesome-I-bring-it-beauty-shopping-with-me NO MORE DIRTY LOOKS: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics.

Plus, ooh, memories: Check out the time when Alexandra and Siobhan guest-starred right here on Beauty Schooled. Big love!

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Pretty Price Check, plus Fun New Thing! (07.15.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Nail Art Awesomeness

  • The New York Times has 10 interesting takes on why wild nail polish has gone mainstream, including an awesome one on why no more formaldehyde helped. Can I just say how much I heart nail art? Happy sigh.
  • Tom Hanks is 11 years older than Julia Roberts, his love interest in Larry Crowne — and Amanda Marcotte is noticing he’s not the only dude getting to rob the cradle on the big screen right now. Which is not to hate on May-December relationships, but more to ask we we can’t see older actresses getting these parts and even — wait for it! — looking their actual age?
  • 10 percent of babies aged 0 to 2 are overweight. People are upset about this. I feel sort of like how I feel when the vet says my cat is fat. Which is to say I mostly think it’s cute and also: Chill, people. (via Jezebel and yes, yes, I know, comparing cats to human babies is yet more proof I’d be a very questionable mother.)
  • Kate Middleton might only weigh 95 pounds now. Except this is probably shamelessly inaccurate, sloppy journalism. And also, what if we all just relaxed about the princess and her weight? (Via The Examiner and Peggy Orenstein’s Facebook page where I was a little surprised to see the comments go in a rather disturbing “that is so sick” direction, sigh…Hate the game, not the player, people!)

Fun New Thing! Is so fun. And I was going to tack it onto this post, but I’ve decided it’s so very fun, it deserves its own post. So get excited… and I’ll be back later this afternoon to tell you more!

[Photo: Multi coloured leopard nails! by terri_jane via Flickr.]

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Pretty Price Check (06.17.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Quickie announcement: Summer just about officially here, folks. And last summer, I didn’t really have a summer, because I spent 16 hours a week at beauty school, while still working 40-50 hours the rest of the time. Which was awesome, because I loved beauty school, but not awesome because I really, really love summer. So this year, I’m taking myself a good ole’ summer. Which might translate into some spottier blogging. (But how could you be spottier? You ask. And I say, hush!)

You know the three Never Say Diet posts aren’t going anywhere, but your Monday/Friday Beauty Schooled content might be (a little bit more) unreliable while I make plenty of time for reading trashy novels on the sun loungers in the backyard and eating Popsicles and such. 

I’m also going to be doing a lot of mulling from that lounge chair, about my beloved blog and new adventures we might go on. I’m not sure what they’ll look like yet (hence the easing up of the schedule to encourage my brain to do more than just tackle every day’s overflowing to do list!). But I welcome your suggestions and promise to keep you posted.

So with that in mind, let’s do a quick Pretty Price Check and then all blow off work early and go for a swim or something, yes? Yes!

  • Brazil is considering a quota that would require 20 percent of its Fashion Week models to be black, says The Cut.
  • Formaldehyde has just been added to the US Department of Health & Human Services list of carcinogens — at last!  — so No More Dirty Looks has this handy list of 7 ways to avoid formaldehyde in your beauty products. Must read.
  • This self-described “Human Barbie” mom gave her 7-year-old a $9,850 voucher for boob implants as a birthday present. Cue shock, horror, hand-wringing. Then please see my take on the Botox Mom and why we need to stop blaming the beauty standard victims already.
  • People are now paying $300 for hair feathers because there is a terrible feather shortage, reports Fashionista. I do like feathers but I do not understand this.
  • 16 percent of kids aged 10 to 12 are vomiting to make themselves lose weight, says this new study of 16,000 school children. And boys are doing it more than girls. Head. Spinning.
  • If you’re dying to know how the Big Six supermodels from the 1990s have aged, BellaSugar has you covered.

See you Tuesday!

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Pretty Price Check: Special Edition (06.10.11)


Parents Magazine Virginia Sole-Smith The Hungry House July 2011Parents Magazine Virginia Sole-Smith The Hungry House July 2011 (2)

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Pretty Talk programming today because I need to tell you about another labor of love project hitting newsstands now. It’s one of those stories I haven’t been able to get out of my head and I hope you won’t either. Because right here in the United States:

  • 1 in 4 children lives in a household that has trouble getting enough to eat.
  • 50 million Americans are considered “food insecure.”
  • Those numbers have climbed 40 percent since 2007.
  • Once a child becomes malnourished, she needs 50 percent more quality nutrition than a typical child does to regain her health.

These numbers are shocking and unacceptable — especially because the solutions are within our reach. I explore the story behind these statistics, and meet families struggling to get dinner on the table, in “The Hungry House,” out now in the July 2011 issue of Parents Magazine, and online at parents.com/hunger. One mom, Tangela Fedrick, also shared her story in a moving video, which I hope you’ll watch and share.

And here’s the good news: There’s a lot you can do to help — and now’s the time to do it. Everyone thinks about helping the needy around Thanksgiving, but summer is actually the hardest time to be a food insecure family, because kids don’t have access to school lunches and breakfasts. Plus, President Obama has pledged to end childhood hunger by 2015. “If all the mothers in this country rose up and said we want all of our children to have healthy diets, this problem would be fixed in a few years,” Deborah Frank, MD, founder of Children’s HealthWatch told me when I interviewed her for this story.

What you can do:

  • Donate — but only what you’d want to feed your own kids. Food banks are frequently overwhelmed with supplies they can’t use. Ask what’s needed — canned produce, infant foods, diapers and supermarket gift cards often top the list.
  • Every time you donate a canned good, write a letter to go with it, telling your senators and representatives that you want to see an end to childhood hunger. Push your Congresspeople to support an expansion of food stamp benefits in the Farm Bill, which will be rewritten in 2012.

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Pretty Price Check (06.03.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Beauty Myth Naomi Wolf Virginia Sole-Smith Beauty Schooled

  • It’s been 20 years since Naomi Wolf published The Beauty Myth. And from where she’s sitting now, it’s mostly good news. I’m not so sure — but then again, I’m 16 years younger and she’s talking about how women feel about their bodies at midlife. More fully-formed thoughts on this to come next week after I’ve mulled. In the meantime, there is this:
  • 30 percent of women are “change agents” who define beauty for themselves, according to the 2004 Dove survey that Naomi Wolf quotes here. Rock on 30 percent! But didn’t we all sort of hope that number would be higher by now?
  • The kind of teenagers who get interviewed for New York Times Thursday Styles are now spending upwards of $750 on their prom dresses. I know I should be more horrified by this (it’s one night! Someone will probably puke on you!) but I feel like there’s always that one girl in the $1000 dress that everyone is all “it’s not even that special!” My senior prom dress cost $350 in 1999. In case you were wondering. And I sure did think that was an ungodly sum of money — and that it was the prettiest dress in the world! — at the time.
  • Teenagers also received 12,000 Botox injections in 2009 — nearly twice what was reported in the previous year. This concerns me way more than prom dresses. (Even though, I know, I know, I said the Botox epidemic was mainly fake earlier this week. I was talking about adults!) And apparently it concerns New Jersey too, where a pending bill may make Botox illegal for anyone under the age of 18. (Via CBS Philly)
  • The Norwegian National Register of Adverse Effects from Cosmetic Products received 96 reports of adverse effects from beauty products in the past two years. (Via EurekaAlert.)

PS. Not gonna lie, this trippy laser hair removal commercial does sort of capture my feelings about leg waxing.

[Photo: Beauty Myth, original cover, uploaded to Flickr by cdrummbks]

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Pretty Price Check (05.27.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Hair on 125th Street by SpecialKRB

  • If you’ve ever wanted to see 12 models without professional makeup or retouching, now you can. Phew.
  • BellaSugar asks: Does $38 worth of makeup work as well as $209? I totally can’t tell which side of the model’s face got which products. And I’m a trained professional, yo.
  • Teen wears $25,000 dress to the prom, reports Jezebel. Hope no one spilled the spiked punch on it.
  • If the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act passes, developers building new strip malls (you know, where beauty salons live!) would have to require tenants to pay $10 per hour plus health insurance or $11.50 per hour without it. Fingers. Crossed. (Via Broadside)
  • Lead was found in 96 percent of cosmetics tested in a new and scary study, reports No More Dirty Looks. Don’t worry, arsenic was only in 20 percent of samples.
And happy Memorial Day Weekend! Here’s the Environmental Working Group’s latest sunscreen report, so you can be safe when you’re sun-bound this weekend.
Oh and if you’re in LA (why am I not in LA?!) you should totes go to this amazing photo exhibit, Beauty CULTure.  If you’re not, at least you can read this New York Times story about it.
See you Tuesday!

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Pretty Price Check: Enough With the Fat Hate (05.13.11)

The Pretty Price Check: Your Friday round-up of how much we paid for beauty this week.

Ragen Chastein Dances With Fat Photo by Richard Sabel

It seems like everywhere I turn this week, the news is about how much our culture hates fat people. So this a special theme edition of the Price Check. Because people, this has got to stop.

  • My beautiful friend (and amazing blogger and dancer — that’s her above!) Ragen Chastain received over 260 hate-filled comments on her blog this week from evil Internet Trolls who think she should die in appalling and violent ways. (And if you think she must be some strange, isolated example, check out #thingsfatpeoplearetoldon Twitter — and prepare to lose your mind.)
  • Kirstie Alley, the formerly Fat Actress, won “Dancing With the Stars” this week despite admitting she was eating just 150 calories while dancing for hours per day. Naturally, the world is celebrating her dancing-fueled weight loss instead of worrying about her health. (Via ABOUT-FACE)
  • Psychologists found that 72 percent of overweight and obese individuals depicted in the media are stigmatized, often appearing shirtless or headless, according to a study (PDF) published in the Journal of Health Communication. (Via Good)
  • As I reported yesterday on Never Say Diet, when new research showed that only 69 percent of Americans are trying to lose weight (down from 77 percent last year), nutritionists threw up their hands in a state of panic that we might just be accepting our fat selves and preparing to die. (Note that 69 percent means that more than half the population is on a diet.)

This is on top of a major, multi-country study published in the journal Current Anthropology in March, which found that fat stigma is increasing around the world, even in countries where larger bodies have previously been celebrated. (See Tara Parker-Pope’s column and Michelle Segar’s blog post for great analysis on why increasing fat stigma will do nothing to actually “fight obesity.”)

And the Seattle Times is reporting that Georgia just launched a new “Stop Childhood Obesity” campaign featuring fat kids saying things like “Chubby kids may not outlive their parents,” and “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did” and generally ensuring that they’ll be teased on the playground for the rest of their days.

So. What the f*ck is going on? Continue reading

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