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Toxic Cosmetics and why Oxygen kills 30% of Us.

story of cosmetics 300x169 Toxic Cosmetics and why Oxygen kills 30% of Us.Here is the latest film from Free Range Studios who brought us ‘The Story of Stuff’. It is about cosmetics. If you have 8mins to watch it, click here. If you don’t, here’s a summary of what it says:

-If you put toxic chemicals into cosmetics, you get toxic cosmetics.

-In the US, companies can call cosmetics absolutely anything- ‘natural’, even ‘organic’ without any regulation.

-Most chemicals used have not been tested so we don’t know what they’re doing to us and some are certainly carcinogenic.

-The US government should ban toxic chemicals in cosmetics.

Fair enough. However, I’ve been reading the environmentalist James Lovelock’s book ‘The Revenge of Gaia’ recently. He raises a really interesting point: are we slightly TOO worried about cancer? Some quotes:

1. “In spite of all our fears of cancer from radiation, from chemicals in food, and even from mobile phones and power lines, we live longer than ever.”

2. “Natural and man-made sources of cancer act like radiation, but none of them, apart from smoking cigarettes and too much sunburn, add significantly to the 30% that die from breathing oxygen.”

Wow – yes, apparently oxygen is the most deadly carcinogen on the planet. It reacts with the food we eat producing pollutants such as superoxide ions and hydroxyl radical and KILLS 30% OF HUMAN BEINGS.

Lifespans are projected to continue to increase – do we really want to live longer than we already do?

Having said all that, I don’t really like the idea of specifying toxic things to go into something you’re producing and they do end up inside the human body. As a designer, isn’t it worth checking if materials are toxic and then maybe going for something that isn’t? American legislation is behind European in terms of banned hazardous substances but the US are considering a new law in 2010 to ban toxic substances in Cosmetics.

Journalists Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt have written a book which they describe as the “Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics”, for those interested in cosmetics which aren’t going to toxify their bodies! They also have an interesting blog.