Why I am no Longer a Signer of The Compact For Safe Cosmetics

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Several years ago, I heard about an organization called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. They had a website containing a list of companies that were committed to making cosmetics that are safe. Since the reason that I created my mineral makeup line in the first place was exactly that – I signed up immediately. In fact, I believe I was one of the first hundred or so companies to sign up.
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You see, I had been making personal care products like soaps, massage oils and lotions for years, using only pure, clean, natural and safe ingredients. I spent much of my time researching ingredients to make sure that my products contained the safest ingredients available. My clientele had been asking me for years to create a natural, safe makeup line. They wanted more choices than just the big brand names they found at the drugstore. They wanted to be able to come to the Farmer’s Market and buy safe products from companies they knew and trusted. After years of research and development, I debuted my mineral makeup cosmetics – Natural Look Mineral Makeup – in 2003 to an amazing response.
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So, signing the Compact for Safe Cosmetics seemed like a no-brainer. I was happy to see that there was an organization devoted to such a wonderful and useful purpose and I wanted to be part of it. I also got quite a bit of business from people who found my company from seeing my name on the list, which was an added bonus.
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After signing the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, I received numerous emails from the Campaign asking me to upload all my products and ingredients into a database they were creating in partnership with the Environmental working Group (EWG) called the Skin Deep Database. The process of uploading to the database, as they explained it, seemed long and tedious, and since I have around 65 different products in my line, the chore seemed to get pushed to the bottom of the list every day. There was also this nagging doubt in the back of my mind that kept telling me to just hold off and see where this all was going. My intuition has always been very strong, so I decided to just hang back and wait to upload my information into the database until I felt completely comfortable with it.
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Over the next 2 years I continued to receive form letters from the Campaign reminding all signers of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics to upload their information into the Skin Deep Database. These emails began to get increasingly suspicious. They started threatening their signers with a tier-based ranking system (you were green tier if you had all your products and ingredients in the database by a certain date, gray tier if you had only a certain percentage, red if you were “out of compliance”) to bully their signing membership into compliance with their alliance with the EWG and the Skin Deep Database. They also later instituted another tier-based ranking system according to member status (Gold member, Full member or Associate member, depending on how much safety data you were able to submit on the ingredients you used in your products.) Mind you, none of these requirements were made known to the companies when signing the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. This “compliance” was forced upon the companies after signing. To make this point very clear – compliance does not mean maintaining the commitment to making safe cosmetics, it means compliance with their push to get everyone to input their data into the database.
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I also started hearing mumblings about federal legislation regarding making cosmetics safer for consumers. I received an email from the Campaign in 2008 stating that they were crafting a set of policy recommendations to protect consumers and support small businesses that are making safe cosmetic products. They had a short survey that Signers could fill out to give their input. There was a question on the survey asking how the federal government could support small businesses making safe cosmetics, so it all seemed on the up an up until I found out, through a small cosmetics trade group that I am a member of, that the Campaign had been working with legislators for 6 months prior to the survey and that several of the included policy recommendations would decimate small cosmetics companies. It appeared that the show of support for their Compact Signers was just a rouse to keep us believing that they were actually working for our side. As Compact Signers, we were never again asked for input on any of their policy recommendations, nor did we receive any information from them regarding what their recommendations actually were!
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At the same time this was all taking place, I began to look a little more closely at the Skin Deep Database itself. I was not impressed with what I found. Since Kayla Fioravanti from Essential Wholesale has a beautifully articulated guest blogpost from Dene Godfrey regarding most of the problems with the Database here, I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say, their ranking system is skewed and their science is biased and flawed.
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As the debate about the current proposed legislation (the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010) started heating up, I realized that the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the EWG are using their membership of over 1000 companies as “proof” that small cosmetic companies are behind the bill.
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I decided I needed to cut all ties with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, the Skin Deep Database and the EWG. The politics involved with these groups have proven to be underhanded and non-transparent. There is a lot of money behind these groups and they have a lot of lobbying power for big business on Capitol Hill. But they do not represent the small companies and consumers that they claim they are trying to protect. I asked for my company to be removed from the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, effective immediately. It took awhile, but finally, as of last week, Herbs of Grace, Inc is no longer listed as a Compact Signer. Many other companies trying to remove themselves from the Compact have had their own difficulties as mentioned here.
I want to be clear that this does not in any way, shape or form impact our commitment to making pure, green, safe and natural cosmetics. That has been our goal from the beginning and it will continue to be so.
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If you want to learn more about the Safe Cosmetics Act and how it will impact not only the small cosmetic industry, but consumers of safe cosmetics as well, please read my blog post here. Be sure to read the links provided as they contain vital information on what the law actually says and what that means for us all.
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And, finally, please show your support for small businesses like ours and for your continued ability to choose to use safe and natural cosmetics by signing the petition an contacting your legislators.
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~Vanessa

Please Oppose the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

As the owner, formulator, manufacturer and retailer of a natural cosmetics line, I am all in favor of safer cosmetics. In fact, that is the reason I started my company in the first place. I had the desire to make clean, safe, green cosmetics not only for myself and my family, but for everyone else who is concerned about what they put on their bodies and their childrens bodies.

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However, I am not in favor of the newly proposed piece of legislation entitled the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010. In fact, I strongly oppose it. Why, you ask? Because if it passes into law, as written, I will no longer be able to make safe cosmetics. Neither will hundreds of other small, indie, (mostly) women-owned cosmetics companies. No longer will we be able to click on our favorite internet site and buy that gorgeous all natural mineral eyeshadow that we love so much. No longer will we be able to go to the farmer’s market and pick up some of that organic lip balm we can’t live without. No longer will we have the ability to start up a small cosmetics business to support our families through tough economic times. Do you recall all the small toy companies that have been forced out of business in the last couple of years because of the disastrous Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008? This is another CPSIA in the making…..unless we stop it now.

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The most damaging sections of the bill and how they will effect small cosmetic businesses has been covered beautifully by Kayla from Essential Wholesale here. I think her assessment and comments are spot on – especially regarding the the PR spin that has been put in place by the Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

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Marcia of Samara Botane also provides various details here on the complexities of who’s really pushing this law, why they may not really have our best interests in mind and why we should think twice before placing our trust in them.

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Anne-Marie from Brambleberry also has a great point-by-point explanation here of  the practical effects of this vaguely worded and over-reaching bill.

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Additionally, Hal from Alabu has written an excellent piece here on how this legislation would affect us all as consumers.

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The Safe Cosmetics Act  has a lot of money behind it; it is being backed by the Environmental Working Group, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, as well as celebrities like actress Fran Drescher and author Stacy Malkin. We definitely need grassroots support if we want to protect our rights as small business owners and as consumers. We need to protect our right to have the choice to buy safe products from indie businesses that we have developed relationships with. We need to protect our right to choose which products and ingredients *we* determine are safe for us based on unbiased research. We need to protect our right to personal responsibility – not to have our choices and decisions made for us by government agencies and those corporations and organizations that have the money to influence them.

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Take Action.

Sign the Petition to oppose this Act.

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Vanessa

Herbs of Grace, Inc.