Just in the United States, the cosmetics industry pulls in some $70 billion a year in sales of what’s commonly called “makeup.” But lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, and the like aren’t the only kind of makeup the cosmetic giants are peddling.

Makeup Palette

Dominique Godbout/Flickr

For years, their lobbyists, lawyers, and PR agents have been making up facts, stories, half-truths, and whole lies to keep lawmakers and regulators from banning various cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting ingredients that their products contain.

One especially nasty example of this is the continuing campaign by L’Oreal, Revlon, and the industry’s Personal Care Products Council to keep putting formaldehyde in everything from baby wipes to hair straighteners.

Back in 1981, the National Toxicology Program, an interagency scientific panel, first listed this noxious chemical as a likely human carcinogen. Cosmetic makers erupted with a volcano of outrage, and the program’s findings were buried.

But the toxicologists, pushed by consumer and environmental groups, kept doing even-deeper research, and in 2011, the Health and Human Services Department declared that formaldehyde is “known to be a human carcinogen.”

That should have been that. But corporate lobbyists got their congressional puppets to assail the researchers for supposedly flawed methods and for interfering in private business. However, the prestigious National Academy of Science reviewed that research and now unequivocally endorses those findings. The Academy even determined that new research shows that formaldehyde may cause a much wider array of cancers than previously known.

So, after 33 years of efforts to make cosmetics safer, the health of babies finally wins one over makeup profiteers, right?

Not quite yet. Incredibly, the products of Revlon and L’Oreal still contain cancer-causing formaldehyde, and both of those greedheaded giants continue to balk at necessary reforms. To keep up and join the fight, visit the Environmental Working Group’s website at www.ewg.org.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org

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