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Behind the Pink

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THINK BEFORE YOU PINKAs I sit here, writing about breast cancer and how our environment (cosmetics, food, cleaning products etc) can play a role in the increased rate of the disease, all I can think about is my 12 month old daughter. I get emotional thinking of all the chemicals and toxins she has already been exposed to at such a tender age.

We have eliminated the toxic cleaning products, cosmetics, toys, clothing etc. But, we are surrounded by harmful chemicals daily. We need the governments to step up and implement stronger laws to eliminate these harmful toxins from our everyday products.

We all want to look and feel beautiful. It increases our confidence and can even open different windows of opportunity. When we feel great, the sky is the limit. To achieve this sense of well-being, many women reach for different products on the market such as shampoos, wrinkle creams, eye shadow, blush, lip stick, mascara, etc. What if I told you that many of the cosmetics and products we use may contain various harmful chemicals?

According to Breast Cancer Fund and The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics, the following are a list of some of the chemicals found in our cosmetics and their effects:

  • Parabens are a group of compounds widely used as an antifungal agent, preservative and antimicrobial in creams, lotions, ointments and other cosmetics, including underarm deodorants. They are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.
  • Phthalates are a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are found in cosmetics like nail polish and in synthetic fragrance—both perfumes and fragrance ingredients in other cosmetic products. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer. Some phthalates also act as weak estrogens in cell culture systems.
  • Fragarance is a secret mixtures of chemicals used in both perfumes and scented cosmetics. “Fragrance” may include phthalates, synthetic musks (which may disrupt hormones) and ethylene oxide (a mammary carcinogen). The companies are not required to list these chemicals on product labels.
  • Ethoxylated compounds is dimethicone, PEG-40, ceteareth-12 and other compounds with the syllables “eth” or “PEG” in them are used in a wide variety of cosmetics. These compounds are formed by processing with ethylene oxide, a mammary carcinogen, and can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, also a mammary carcinogen.
  • Triclosan is commonly used in anti-microbial soaps. More research is needed to understand how triclosan relates to breast cancer, but evidence suggests it affects male and female hormones as well as thyroid hormone, which effects weight and metabolism.
  • Lead may be a contaminant in over 650 cosmetic products, including sunscreens, foundation, nail colors, lipsticks and whitening toothpaste. Lead is a proven neurotoxin, linked to learning, language and behavioral problems. It has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in men and women, and delays in puberty onset in girls.

Yes, some of these harmful chemicals may be at low doses, but add up all the products we use daily from our make-up, shampoos and hand creams, and the amount of toxins entering our bodies through our skin increases significantly.

During the month of October, we see different companies stepping up and making their products all cute and nice with the pink ribbon. Proctor and Gamble, Estee Lauder, Avon and Revlon, to name a few, support the fight for breast cancer by selling their products and proceeds of their sales goes towards cancer research.

On the surface this looks great; companies that care about women’s health. When you dig a little bit deeper, you find that many of their products contain harmful chemicals linked to cancer.

This is know as Pinkwashing. A term used to describe companies that position themselves as leaders in the fight against breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease.

One of Estee Lauders slogans for their Pink Ribbon Campaign is “ Together. Connect. Communicate. Conquer. For a future free of breast Cancer.” It’s almost laughable. To start: how about you stop being hypocrites and conquer a future free of cancer by removing cancer causing toxic chemicals in your cosmetics?

Estee Lauder is one of the leaders in the pink ribbon campaign and it seems to me they should have a distinct responsibility to refuse to buy carcinogens from the chemical companies. They are a power house with the capability to shift the cosmetic market away from from harmful chemicals and look towards a safer, non-toxic replacement.

I most definitely do not have a problem with corporations supporting breast cancer research. What I can’t seem to wrap my head around is that these companies are promoting their products with the pink ribbon while some of their ingredients are linked to cancer. If these companies really wanted to make a difference for women’s health and be heroes, shouldn’t they start by eliminating the cancer causing chemicals from their products?

How can you make a difference? Take Action:

  1. Join The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics in asking Estee Lauder to stop buying carcinogens and hormone disruptors from chemicals companies.
  2. Join Safer Chemicals Healthy Families in asking Congress to know that you reject Big Chemical’s agenda and support the Safe Chemicals Agenda!
  3. The largest breast cancer organization in the world, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, has commissioned a perfume that harms women’s health and is selling it in the name of breast cancer. Write a letter to Susan G. Koman and  “raise a stink” with Think Before You Pink on the new “Promise me” perfume.
  4. If you would like to see where your products rate on a scale from 0-10, 0 being the less toxic, visit the Skin deep database.
  5. Watch The Story of Cosmetics by Annie Leonard

Please join the Green Sisterhood and the Green Moms as we stand together and fight for safer chemicals in our products. Want to learn more about the chemicals and toxics in our products? Head over to Big Green Purse and see what all us Green Sisters and Moms are saying.

Sources: The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics, The Breast Cancer Fund, and No Family History Documentary/book

Disclaimer: This is all my own opinions and some may agree or disagree. If you are the latter, please leave respectful comments on the subject to have an open discussion on the topic. All comments seen as disrespectful will be deleted.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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26 Responses to Behind the Pink

  1. Susie October 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    I am a big fan of the Skin Deep site. I used it a lot when Evey was little, so now I know what’s good and not. I started using it again when I wanted something for me. I tell all new moms about it!

    • Good Girl Gone Green October 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

      Best.Site.Ever. I use it all the time! Before I buy something, I check it out. :)

  2. Susan F October 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I just can’t get over all the things I don’t think of. I don’t use much make up, but what I do use is Avon. Maybe I should say, WAS Avon. As I read more, research more, and bring more natural things into our lives (All hail Crunchy Betty); I am astounded at the hypocrisy of companies. Thank you for all your awesome posts and for loving our mother the way that you do!

  3. Sarah October 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    I’m glad you wrote about this because it’s such an important part of breast cancer awareness that is missing in the pink ribbon frenzy. The video was very moving and puts things into perspective; we have plenty of awareness, what we need is prevention. We need to get to the root of the environmental toxins that are causing the vast majority of breast cancers with no genetic component.

    • Good Girl Gone Green October 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

      Thank you, Sarah! I agree, PREVENTION is key and looking for the root of the problem! :)

  4. Melisa - Mommy This and That October 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    I wish this was at the forefront of breast cancer awareness! I wish more people took the time to really think about these companies that hide behind the pink ribbon but I guess ignorance is bliss for some!

    • Good Girl Gone Green October 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

      Thank you, Melisa! People need to really really think about how these companies are supporting breast cancer. Like KFC or tic-tacs…..really? I think neither are helping the disease with their sugar and fat loaded products. My opinion of course.

  5. sandra October 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    I have used all of the websites you have listed above and The Safe Shopper’s Bible. How can these toxins be in so many products and people are not aware? When talking to others about what is in the products they use I often hear .. Well…. it is only a little bit and it is cheaper. My response is -you will have time to decide for yourself if you end up in the hospital because of them. Why take risk. Do your research and find safer alternatives. They are out there and are cost effective to. going green is not just for the rich

    • Good Girl Gone Green October 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

      I think people just don not care or keep blinders on. They just do not want to know about all the toxins in their foods, cosmetics, cleaners, etc. This way they can keep on their merry way and not feel guilty or responsible. My opinion, of course. :)

  6. Tiffany Booth October 22, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    This is fab! Love the BCA stuff :)

    I stumbled as PSbeautyqueen. Here is my link: BCA Month: Popcorn for the Cure

    I look forward to more of your posts :)

  7. Lisa @Granola Catholic October 22, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    Great post as always Stephanie! I wish more people realized what was really going on with cosmetics, and Pink Washing. This whole wear pink and save the tattas has me a little angry. As if buying a pink t-shirt will prevent breast cancer!

    • Good Girl Gone Green October 22, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

      Aww, thanks Lisa for the nice compliment! You are so right about as if a pink t-shirt will prevent breast cancer!!! :)

  8. Mindy Perez October 26, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    GREAT POST, Stephanie! So many women are STILL unaware of the dangerous toxins lurking in our personal care products. Having lost both my parents to cancer and having a mother-in-law currently in remission of breast cancer, this subject is the very reason and foundation to the development of my site ( From inception, EVOKE Elegance and our EEM Collection has been commited to providing ONLY the safest, non-toxic, non-carcinogenic personal care products as alternatives to the chemical laden conventional products from huge corporations that are only concerned with their bottom line. From au natural to glam, we’ve got it all (with new gift items to be uploaded over the next few weeks) making it easier for girly girls to turn green! Thanks for helping spread the word on the dangers of what’s hiding in our bathroom cabinets and vanities! :)

    • Good Girl Gone Green October 28, 2011 at 2:04 am #

      I am so sorry to hear about your parents and your mother-in-law. People do not realise what’s in their personal care products. I honestly think some people do not care their are toxins and chemicals linked to cancer in their products though. People would rather live with their head in the sand; it;s easier that way.

  9. Megan at SortaCrunchy October 27, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Thank you for linking up to this for Your Green Resource. I’ve been meaning to write about pinkwashing all month, but time has gotten away from me. This is a HUGE issue that everyone should be aware of! Thank you so much for such a thoughtful article.

    • Good Girl Gone Green October 28, 2011 at 1:58 am #

      Thanks, Megan. At first I was nervous to post it, but realized I needed to post it! I am so passionate about getting the toxins out of our homes and companies come along “pretending” to care and actually adding to the problem. In my opinion, of course! :)

  10. Nora B. Peevy October 27, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Over from the Thoughtful Th. Hop.

    When I was 13 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had a masectomy and reconstructive surgery. I am 35. She survived and I am lucky to still have here with me. She turned 70 this year. Breast cancer had never run in her family. If you have a history in your family or even one person who has it, you have to start mammograms ten years before the diagnosis of your family member. That means in two years, I have to start. Mom was 37.

    Her diagnosis came at the time when I was going through puberty and trying to figure out what being a woman was. It was very confusing and hard. It was scary. I saw my mom even stronger after that experience. Now that I am grown and have a husband and stepson, I cannot even imagine how she managed to still attend college, take care of two kids, manage a household, and go to chemo all at the same time. She tried to never cry in front of us, but I would find her on the basement steps. It was hard to see her like that.

    I eliminated all of these things from my personal care products years ago. If you don’t do it for these reasons, there are others. It’s more eco-friendly, most of the companies you buy from don’t test on animals, and truly, you will see an improvement in your skin, even if you already have great skin.

    Today I have an interview with fantasy, horror, and sci-fi editing mogul Ellen Datlow. Hope to see some people stop by.


    • Good Girl Gone Green October 28, 2011 at 2:00 am #

      You seriously brought tears to my eyes, Nora. I am so happy to hear that you have eliminated all those nasty toxins and chemicals from your home!

  11. Jessica @FoundtheMarbles October 27, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    I never u skincare items with parabens but I have yet to find cosmetics that are chemical free and w ork well for me. I keep trying different brands and hopefully I’ll find one I like soon!

    • Good Girl Gone Green October 28, 2011 at 1:59 am #

      Keep looking. You will find one! :)

    • Mindy Perez October 28, 2011 at 10:52 am #

      Hi, Jessica!

      EVOKE Elegance has AMAZING bath bombs, soaps, and cosmetics that are ALL free of toxins and made with only organic and natural ingredients! Keep a watch out for new skincare products coming soon too! They are super high potency and are sure to work!

      Good luck in your search! Once you’ve found the products that work, your skin will be so much happier! :)

  12. Good Girl Gone Green October 28, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    Thanks, Becca. Me too!

  13. Good Girl Gone Green October 29, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    It makes me tired and sick! You are so right, Andrea!

  14. Good Girl Gone Green October 29, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    I am so sorry to hear about this, Elizabeth. Companies need to make safer products to help reduce the amount of people being diagnosed with cancer. I sincerely hope things get better for you. Big hugs to you.

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I'm Stephanie, the Good Girl Gone Green, and I'm excited to share my own experiences with learning to live a greener, healthier life!

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