Environmental council report takes on cosmetic labeling

A new report from the Oregon Environmental Council shines a light on a loophole in cosmetic ingredient labeling.

A new report from the Oregon Environmental Council shines the light on a loophole in cosmetic ingredient labeling.

The Oregon Environmental Council shed light Monday on the issue of harmful chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products with the release of a report showing that college women surveyed wanted better labeling.

Working with Metro, the OEC surveyed more than 1,000 undergraduate women asking them about the personal care products they use and how they felt about labeling.

The report, “What’s in My Makeup Bag,” is available online. The women surveyed listed more than 10,000 individual products in use. Of those surveyed 88 percent said they want personal care product ingredients to be regulated for safety, and nine out of 10 respondents think companies should be required to list all the ingredients in a product.

Right now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires ingredient labeling, except for fragrance, which is considered a trade secret. Renee Hackenmiller-Paradis, program director for environmental health, said that exception creates an opening for toxins.

"They can hide lots of things in fragrance," she said.

The environmental council isn't pursuing any legislation for more regulations at this time but is working to raise awareness about the potential for harmful ingredients in cosmetics, including phthalates.

The OEC was a major proponent for the ban on the chemical bisphenol A — or BPA — which recently passed in Multnomah County. Hackenmiller-Paradis said that conversations about cosmetic ingredients are at the stage now where conversations about BPA were five years ago.

Alima Pure, a natural cosmetic company based in Southeast Portland, expects to see a 35 percent increase in sales this year — company officials declined to disclose revenue — based in part on its embrace of transparent labeling and natural ingredients.

"Consumers are becoming more and more conscientious about what's going into their personal care products," said Alima founder Kate O'Brien. "We're seeing a lot of traction because of that."


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