The Right Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but you probably know that already. You’ve seen the pink ribbons on products and on apparel. If you watch NFL football, you’ve even seen players wearing pink shoes, gloves, and caps. Hoorah for pink! I will cheer from the sidelines with pink pom-poms at efforts to raise awareness and research funds for a dreadful disease that affects far too many.

But here’s where I draw the line. So many of cosmetics being sold to women with pink ribbons stamped on the packaging contain toxic ingredients on the inside — and some of them are carcinogens. I want to applaud Avon, Revlon, Estee Lauder and other companies for what they are doing to raise awareness — and millions of dollars for research to find a cure for this disease — but not nearly as much as I want to sit their executives down in a room and ask, “What the f#$%?” Or, maybe I would hold it together and take a more calm approach: “Why are you selling products with harmful toxins, including carcinogens, when you know you can make safer products — when, in fact, so many other cosmetic companies are already making high-quality products without the toxins?”

That’s right. The good news in this rant is that there are companies making personal care products and cosmetics with safer ingredients. I use them. I don’t miss the makeup I previously used, before finding out about the dangers hidden in those tubes, bottles, jars, and compacts. I don’t feel like I’m compromising by using the better-for-you choices. You can also look up individual products to see how they rank for safety at the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.

And the practice of the other companies fooling consumers into thinking a product with a pink ribbon stamped on it is a good one? It’s know as “pink-washing” and it’s disheartening (more on that here, from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics). But we all make choices with our wallets. Here is one: Would rather buy a lip gloss from a company that knowingly uses harmful ingredients (including known or suspected carcinogens) to make its products or from a company making lip gloss with safer ingredients? I always like to support the good guys (and girls).

Added: Support the Safe Cosmetics Act.

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