The safest place in the US to buy non-toxic cosmetics and personal care products is Whole Foods Market, according to a report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
The grocery chain earned 9 out of 10 possible points for sourcing cosmetics, including a very clear policy that screens personal care products for more than 400 prohibited chemicals. It also applies the same standards to its private label brand, "365."
Drug store chain CVS came in second, with 5 points, followed by Walgreens and Target (4 points), and Walmart, Kroger and Costco (3 points).
Macy's is at the bottom of the list. The company relies mainly on government regulations and does little to ensure the safety of the cosmetics it sells.
The ranking considers:
a retailer's commitment to sourcing products free of chemicals of concern (carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants, endocrine disruptors and persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic substances);
the variety of safe alternatives it stocks;
transparency about sourcing policies.
Many products sold by the $50 billion US personal care industry are unregulated, even baby shampoo. That makes it doubly important for retailers to take a leadership role in avoiding items that contain chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility or other chronic diseases and health conditions.
Cosmetics are the fastest growing segment of the market, expected to generate more than $11 billion in revenue by 2016.
“Retailers that sell personal care products are the gatekeepers of safety for their customers,” says Janet Nudelman of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Breast Cancer Fund. “If the nation’s biggest retailers commit to stop selling cosmetics with toxic chemicals linked to disease, manufacturers who want to keep selling to those retailers will comply. There is a rich history of retailers using their purchasing power to effect positive market change. When retailers said no to BPA in baby bottles or to old-growth lumber, the market responded.”
“Shoppers shouldn’t have to be chemists to figure out how to avoid toxic ingredients in the cosmetics aisle,” says Cindy Luppi of the Campaign and Clean Water Action. “We hope this report will encourage retailers to ensure that every one of their customers has access to safe, affordable personal care products, particularly in low income communities of color where much work is needed.”
Many Americans are continually exposed to trace amounts of carcinogens and other toxic substances, without realizing it. The Safe Cosmetics Act proposed in 2010 and amended in spring 2012 would help change that, but for now its mostly up to companies to lead on eliminating chemicals of concern.
Personal care products giant Johnson & Johnson bowed to public pressure earlier this year, pledging to provide safer formulations of its baby shampoo, lotions and adult toiletries by 2015. That includes brands like Aveena, Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, and Lubriderm.
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