The story of cosmetics

In anticipation of soon-to-be-introduced Congressional legislation in the USA to regulate personal care products – The Story of Stuff Project have released The Story of Cosmetics, a 7-minute animated movie, at Hosted by Annie Leonard, the creator of the viral video hit The Story of Stuff, the film was co-produced by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of over 150 women’s, environmental and health organizations, and Free Range Studios.
The Story of Cosmetics employs the trademark Story of Stuff style to examine the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products, from lipstick to baby shampoo. Over seven minutes, the film reveals the implications for consumer and worker health and the environment, and outlines ways we can move the industry away from hazardous chemicals and towards safer alternatives. The film concludes with a call for viewers to support legislation aimed at ensuring the safety of cosmetics and personal care products.
Major loopholes in U.S. federal law allow the $50 billion beauty industry to put nearly any chemical into personal care products, even chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects, with no required safety assessment and inadequate labeling requirements—making cosmetics among the least-regulated consumer products on the market.
The film’s release coincides with growing public concern about carcinogens and endocrine disruptors in personal care and other common consumer products. In May, the President’s Cancer Panel sounded the alarm about the health risks of the understudied and largely unregulated toxic chemicals used by millions of Americans in their daily lives.
“The beauty industry needs a makeover. For the first time in 70 years, we will have a real chance to pass national legislation that would eliminate chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects from the products women, men and children put on Page 2 their bodies on a daily basis,” said Stacy Malkan, spokesperson for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
The Story of Cosmetics companion website ( will serve as an interactive launch pad for information and action steps for consumers. The site provides viewers with opportunities to learn more about forthcom­ing safe cosmetics legislation, safer products, and how to get involved with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The site also houses downloadable resources and information about the film, including an annotated script.
“We need common-sense laws based on the precautionary principle,” said Annie Leonard, the Director of The Story of Stuff Project. “That means that when we’re dealing with hazardous chemicals, just err on the side of caution. Let’s not debate how much lead should be allowed in lipstick—just get toxic chemicals out of our products!”
The Story of Cosmetics is the third in a series of new movies that The Story of Stuff Project is releasing this year with Free Range Studios ( and more than a dozen of the world’s leading environmental organizations. The first film in the series, The Story of Cap & Trade, was released online in December 2009 and has garnered over 600,000 views. The Story of Bottled Water was one of the most viral films on the internet the week of its March 20th release, with over 700,000 views to date. The Story of Stuff has been viewed over 10 million times since its release in December 2007.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition of nonprofit women’s, environmental, public health, faith and worker safety organizations. Founding members include the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (represented by Clean Water Action and Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition), the Breast Cancer Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth and Women’s Voices for the Earth. The San-Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund, a national 501(c)(3) organization focused on preventing breast cancer by identifying and eliminating the environmental links to the disease, serves as the national coordinator for the Campaign.

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