After learning Marin’s breast cancer rates had risen sharply, Judi Shils started Search for the Cause in 2002. The group has since completed intense research, fundraising and a launch of the Teens for Safe Cosmetics campaign, which aims to educate the public about cancer-causing chemicals in cosmetics and to pressure manufacturers to remove them from their products.
“The average teenage girl uses between 15 and 25 products a day containing about 200 chemicals,” says Shils. Look for the campaign’s Project Prom, coming to Union Square in San Francisco; hundreds of teens will march in prom wear and combat boots to demand a ban on toxic chemicals in their personal care products and cosmetics. —S.F.
Is what we put on our bodies as important as what we put in them? Mounting research does suggest that seemingly benign chemicals in lotions, lipsticks and shampoos could have harmful, even serious effects on health. Here are some local companies, chosen by Judi Shils of Search for the Cause, that sell safer cosmetics and creams.
As a nutritional healing practitioner, Tzeira Sofer knows the benefits of fresh fruits and natural products. After working with skin care experts in Israel, Sofer started the lines t’Zerah and Pomega5 in downtown San Anselmo. After only a few years, the products became available at Whole Foods, Mollie Stone’s and, if you were lucky enough to be ranked as a celebrity, the gift bags at the 2007 Golden Globe awards.
Graphic Designer Lisa Levin founded Pharmacopia after being diagnosed with the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia. Levin researched natural products to help relieve her symptoms and as a result Pharmacopia was born. The company is now a million-dollar business, offering such products as ginger hand cream, sold at Nancy Koltes and Evo Spa.
For a juice-based formula (rather than water based, as most beauty/body care products are), choose Juice Beauty, sold at Sephora and Whole Foods. The Marin-based organic skin-care line uses ingredients like honey, raw cane sugar and ylang ylang from Madagascar.
EO founders Susan and Brad Black started making products with sustainable and organic essential oils in their garage in 1992 and now fill a 15,000-square-foot operation space in Corte Madera.
EO neighbor Stellar Spa is tweaking its five-year-old product line, started by owner Dana Vande Weg, to be mineral based and paraben-free.
Check out searchforthecause.org for more information —S.F.
get the lead out
Lead in lipstick? Some researchers, including Environmental Health Professor Howard Hu from the University of Michigan, are concerned. “The amount of exposure accumulates in the bones of women throughout adulthood,’” explains Hu, “and is then prone to mobilize during pregnancy, cross the placenta, and adversely affect fetal neurodevelopment and growth.”
However, according to the American Cancer Society, the jury is still out: its website states, “The lead content of coloring agents used in lipstick is regulated by the FDA,” and “the levels permitted are not a health problem.” Yet as Christin Powell, a veteran natural cosmetics consultant for skin care companies wanting to “clean up” their product lines, points out, “the use of lead in cosmetics is banned in the UK and other countries, but [such products] remain on the shelves in the United States.
Many cosmetics companies use lead in lipstick to help preserve long-lasting color,” she adds. “When choosing a lipstick, read labels carefully. Choose a lipstick that uses only organic natural waxes, herbal extracts, vitamins and plant oils such as hemp or jojoba.” Safe, long-lasting color alternatives, she says, include minerals such as mica and iron oxides, beet powder and azulene. Lead-free lipstick brands include Mineral Fusion, Green People Organic Lipstick, Iredale PureMoist Lipsticks and Colorganics Hemp Lipstick.
These local companies likewise tout their products as lead-free, so pucker up:
- 29 Cosmetics (Napa), 888.415.2929, 29cosmetics.com
- Milvali (Mill Valley), 415.388.0988, milvali.com
- Bare Escentuals (SF), 415.489.5000, bareescentuals.com