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Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry    by Stacy Malkan order for
Not Just a Pretty Face
by Stacy Malkan
Order:  USA  Can
New Society Publishers, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Deb Kincaid

Most Americans believe the government makes sure their hair and skin care products are safe. After all, cosmetics fall under the oversight of the FDA, right? But what most don't know is that not only does the FDA have no authority to require safety testing before cosmetics go to market, they can't even force a recall of defective or dangerous products! How could this happen? Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, tells us.

The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) has managed to convince the FDA they can police themselves. And CTFA wants to keep it that way. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board - the policing panel - is funded by the cosmetics industry through the CTFA. Don't you feel safe now?

Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and Communications Director of Health Care Without Harm, describes how the outrage of a handful of women led to formation of dozens of consumer advocacy groups who participate in grassroots neighborhood awareness campaigns, educate and lobby politicians, and go head to head with multinational cosmetic industry corporations.

How can we know which cosmetics are safe? Skin Deep. Malkan details the arduous creation of Skin Deep, the online cosmetics database that was the brainchild of Jane Houlihan, vice president of research at Environmental Working Group. Skin Deep revealed that 1/3 of personal care products contain at least one ingredient linked to cancer.

Contrary to the scathing tone I expected, Malkan's book is inviting and upbeat. It retraces the journey from early awareness to the focused mission to hopes for a future of green chemistry, and does so over twelve chapters. Thirteen pages of references follow, supporting the validity of Malkan's research. She gives us a peek at the life-threatening skin whitening trend in Asia; relates what involved and enlightened high school teens are accomplishing; and emphasizes the need for governmental policy changes.

Today more than 500 cosmetics companies are committed to creating safer products. But missing from that group are the huge multinational cosmetics firms - the same firms who profess to support the search for a cancer cure. Stacy Malkan's Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry exposes the toxic agenda and duplicity of cosmetic industry multinationals, and also provides the direction we need to make safe choices.

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