Tag Archives: Stacy Malkan

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 (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 (06.18.10)

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

Chris Jordan's 32,000 barbie dolls

  • 32,000: The number of Barbie Dolls you’re looking at in the photo above, by artist Chris Jordan. Which also represents the number of breast augmentation surgeries performed every month in the United States. (Via EcoSalon.)
  • $3: The daily paycheck of workers in an Indian factory that bottles celebrity perfumes. This is a part of the beauty price we haven’t been talking about enough around here, because I tend to be focused on how American salon workers are paying — stay tuned, because this is something we need to be talking about a whole lot more. (Via the Guardian)
  • 2/3: How much wider you think your body is when you look in the mirror. We also view ourselves as shorter than we really are, because well, we’re just that unkind. (Via Jezebel, where Sadie has a great analysis on what’s up with that so do click.)

Must Watch: Great YouTube video about what’s going on in cosmetics. (Thanks, Aimee, for commenting with the link!)

Must Read: After all the uproar over American Apparel’s employee dress code, New York Magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut investigated the dress codes at ten other NYC retailers. It’s. Fascinating. You guys know my take on the Beauty U dress code,* so I won’t bother going into too much detail, except to say: I think this is an area with a lot of rather troubling shades of gray. Sure, a clothing store (or spa or anyplace else appearance-oriented) is going to want employees to represent the brand. But making workers spend their own money to do so is never going to sit right with me.

Also Great: Stacy Malkan’s mystery source, Bubbles, reports a somewhat hilarious/troubling email exchange with an Estee Launder customer service rep who just can’t manage to answer a single question about what’s in their products.

*By the way, there’s a note up on the board in our Beauty U classroom right now that says: “REMEMBER: No cap sleeves, no ripped jeans, no hoodies, thanks!” with a heart next to it. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am the reason for at least two out of three.

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Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Career Opportunities, Dov Watch, Ingredients, Pretty Price Check, products, week 30

Pretty Price Check (05.14.10)

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

Photo of celebrity fragrance bottles tested by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

  • 14: The average number of secret toxic chemicals found in each bottle of perfume tested in a new study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (via Stacy Malkan’s HuffPo take on things). What do I mean by “secret toxic chemicals?” Those are the kind that aren’t listed on the label (because manufacturers can hide these “proprietary formulas” behind the word “fragrance”) and they either haven’t been evaluated for safety, or have been — and so we know they’ve got carcinogenic or endocrine disrupting properties. It’s cool though, because the risks are most serious for kids. And little girls hate Hannah Montana (Her “Secret Celebrity” scent has 13 sensitizing chemicals), Britney Spears (Her “Curious” fragrance has 4 endocrine-disrupting chemicals), and American Eagle (Their “Seventy Seven” perfume has a whopping 24 secret ingredients). Download the full report and tell these celebrities to take a stand against toxic chemicals here.
  • Size 12-14: The dress size of a 5’8, 115-lb fashion model in the 1930s, reports Sadie over on Jezebel. I think the only optimistic way to read this is to say this is why it really doesn’t matter what size jeans you’re wearing. In another seventy years, the whole system will probably be alphabetized instead.
  • $21.4 billion: What the personal care product packaging market is expected to be worth in 2014, says Packaging Digest. Yup, just the packaging. Not any of the junk inside.

The Today Show Goes Makeup-Free! If you missed it, check the video at BellaSugar. Kathie Lee, Hoda and the other NBC anchors all went on TV (in hi-def, no less) without a stitch of makeup on yesterday. You know how sometimes I’m skeptical when celebs do the whole “this is me, warts and all, except I don’t have any warts, so ha!” thing (hi, Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson). But, especially in light of all our talk about beauty routines this week, I’m giving this business two thumbs up. It sort of broke my heart when Kathie Lee looks at the camera and says “it’s about security, it’s about feeling confident,” and Hoda agrees, “Now I look like myself!” once the makeup goes on. (No, honey, you look like the plastic doll version of you.) But only because that’s true for so many of us and I wish we could feel as confident looking like our actual selves.

New Favorite Blog: Stupid Polish Names because OMG, hilarious. Just go read about Miso Happy With This Color. You’re welcome. 

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[Beauty Overheard] It’s 10 PM. Do You Know What Makeup Your Daughter is Wearing?

So here is what I’m stuck on, from this morning’s New York Times piece on tweens wearing makeup:

“I’m using the choose-your-battles kind of parenting,” Mrs. Pometta, an independent publicist from Plainfield, Ill., reasoned in a telephone interview. “I figured, better that she’s informed and has the right tools than she goes into it blindly with her friends in the bathroom and comes out looking like a clown.”

Mrs. Pometta’s daughter, Alyssa, is 11, and among the 18 percent of 8-12 set who wear mascara regularly (15 percent wear eyeliner and lipstick).

Now I get the “better she’s informed” argument when it comes to your kid and safe sex. I get it when it comes to letting your child have a sip of wine at dinner. Because  these are life experiences that have pretty dire consequences if they go badly. The worst-case scenario that Mrs. Pometta is warding off? “Looking like a clown.”

Alyssa is 11. And wearing makeup. Of course she should look like a clown! She should be playing around, figuring out what she likes and dislikes, putting on purple eye shadow at sleepover parties and expressing herself and what not.

But Mrs. Pometta isn’t talking about sleepover parties. She’s talking about Alyssa wearing makeup every day. To cover blemishes, lengthen her eyelashes, make her lips more pink. To cover up what she perceives to be her flaws.

And by taking Alyssa for that makeover, Mrs. Pometta let her know that she sees those flaws, too.

PS. While clearly, I think this article could have done a better job of digging into the body image ramifications of this trend, I was psyched to see writer Douglas Quenqua take on the environmental-health risks of kids putting all this crap on their faces. Plus, excellent quote by our friend Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face, and spokesperson for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Yay!


Filed under Beauty Overheard, beauty standards, week 24