Have We Given Much Thought to the Ugly Side of Beauty?

Published on by GI Admin

How eager are we to become beautiful?


The global beauty industry is currently worth $532 billion and is expected to reach $758.4 billion by 2025.

In a survey by Hidden in Makeup, 1 in 3 women responded that they refuse to leave the house each morning without wearing makeup. Another survey from China revealed that 64% of women believe that wearing makeup is an expression of respect for others. 

These staggering figures demonstrate how reliant we already are, and how much more we will be in the near future on cosmetics and skincare products to ‘go out’ into the world. The global beauty industry perpetuates this message of reliance, positioning skincare and other cosmetics as necessities and integral to our daily routines.

Image Source: https://www.wellandgood.com/how-to-use-makeup-brushes/

But what if these products, marketed as making us look and feel our best, are actually causing damage to our bodies?

Anyone who has ever glanced at their shampoo or moisturiser bottle has probably noticed an ingredients list with a number of confusing chemical names. We assume these chemicals are regulated and safe for our bodies – but the truth is that regulation varies greatly from country to country and might still leave us exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Image Source: http://www.brandonturbeville.com/2018/07/cancer-victims-sue-johnson-johnson-over.html

For example, the United States’ cosmetics industry is almost entirely self-regulated. More than 12,000 chemicals, many with unresearched effects, are approved for use. Most worrying among these are known carcinogens such as formaldehyde, found in hair treatments and some soaps, and linked to cancers of the nasal cavity and leukaemia. Coal tar, heavy metals, parabens and phthalates are also among the more dangerous chemicals approved for use in the US.

Image Source: https://www.amazon.com/Toxic-Beauty-hidden-chemicals-cosmetics/dp/1856753069

But harmful beauty products exist around the world – skin lightening treatments, especially popular across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, are closely linked to mercury poisoning, skin cancer and fatal organ damage. 

The truth is that the full extent of these health effects are not yet known. While research is increasingly focused on the effects of individual chemicals on our bodies, data on real-world exposure is very limited. In the US, women apply an average of 200 chemicals to their bodies each day and research has yet to discover how these chemicals interact with one another once they are absorbed by the skin.

Image Source:https://neuroticmommy.com/2016/10/27/safer-beauty/

So, how can we keep ourselves and our skin safe?

Despite a few key ingredients having harmful effects on our health, it is likely that most of the products we use daily are completely safe for our bodies. Nonetheless, researching and understanding the ingredient labels on our daily products is a good place to start. Learn which chemicals to avoid due to their negative health effects, including sulphates, parabens and triclosan. In a world without clear cosmetics regulations, self-regulation is currently the key to our health and our beauty.

There are also a growing number of natural, healthy skincare products. Take a look around and ask your friends and colleagues – you are bound to stumble on a few of them.

Toxic Beauty Film Screening

Green Initiatives is screening Toxic Beauty on Thursday, October 15, 2020. The documentary features exclusive access to scientists, lawyers, advocates, regulators, politicians, a dynamic whistle-blower, survivors and women who have lost their lives.

In 1982, world renowned epidemiologist, Dr. Daniel Cramer, linked Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder to ovarian cancer. Toxic Beauty follows the class action lawsuit against J&J and the plaintiffs, personal stories of women fighting for justice in a race against time with this deadly disease.

Woven throughout the film is a human experiment. We document as Boston University medical student, Mymy Nguyen, measures her chemical body burden from over 27 products. Scientists monitor her shocking results. In the end, the film meets the companies and people who offer solutions and optimism for safer, toxicant free cosmetics.

Post-Film Discussions with NUDE By Korea

Image Source: https://nudebykorea.com/

Film screening will be followed by discussion with Farah and Carina, co-founders of NUDE by Korea skincare. NUDE creates natural skin care for sensitive skin without harsh or controversial chemicals. The brand's focus is on simple ingredient lists and only using natural & vegan ingredients of the highest quality. To ensure zero-waste our packaging says goodbye to plastic and other harmful materials.

NUDE co-founder were also featured in Green Initiatives' widely read "China's Superwomen: Women Changing Our World for the Better" WeChat post.