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The Old Mentality

by Natalie Elliott |

Many of the personal care and cosmetics companies are still using the same recipes they formulated seven decades ago.

I’ve noticed that it’s quite common that the effects upon human health has zero consideration when as a society we become excited by a new wave of product indulgence. Consider the tobacco industry, food cropping, and more recently the movement towards vaping as a ‘safe’ alternative to cigarettes. It appears that not much is different in the world of self-care and cosmetics.

Back in the 1950s, society was charging out of the rations of the 40s and embracing the effects of a growing economy. As life returned to normal and after the depression of war, we all wanted to look good!i

Personal care and cosmetic products were booming onto the market with chemistry as the driving force behind the formulas.

Fast forward 70 years and society has changed…but the industry has not.

70 years ago, we didn’t have the knowledge and understanding that we have today about how certain chemicals and toxins are absorbed into our bodies, and the subsequent harm they do once inside. REF

What is also neglected is the accumulated and combined effect of the whole cocktail of products we use daily. Fair enough, your one shampoo may not cause any harm even though you used that product everyday for your whole life. But what about when it is combined with the other 34 daily products.

‘Data on real-world chemical exposure is limited, and most safety assessments look at one chemical and one source at a time. “but we are not using just one product, “Leiba said. “Your exposure in just one day can greatly outweigh what this one company said was the low dose you had in your product.”’ii

The industry appears to be pretty backwards in moving forwards. It is used to doing things one way. When Nick and I called around to manufacturers we were told more often than not, ‘it is not possible to make that product without the chemical to ‘stabilise,’ or ‘produce foam,’ or ‘preserve it.’

If society is crying out for change, the industry will have to follow…eventually.

i University of Cambridge. Institute of Continued Education. Wind of change: Post war Britain 1945 – 1965: https://www.ice.cam.ac.uk/course/wind-change-post-war-britain-1945-1965 ii Zanolli, L. The Guardian (online). ‘Pretty Hurts: are chemicals in beauty products making us ill?’ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/23/are-chemicals-in-beauty-products-making-us-ill