When people encounter new scientific information that casts doubt on the status quo, they often can’t believe their eyes (or ears). If all this is true, you may ask, why haven’t I heard it before? Why do so many dermatologists with perfect credentials endorse beauty products that are making me sick? Could they be doing it to keep themselves busy? These are all perfectly good questions, and getting the right answers is an important part of your green coming-of-age.
To follow all the leads and examine all the underlying reasons may be beyond the scope of this book, but some issues have to be explained. The beauty industry is one of the most profitable of all industries, and as in every business, you may be surprised to find out that the information is governed by the same old Golden Rule: those who have the gold make the rule.
So who has the gold? One of the world’s largest and most profitable industries, which will start losing millions of dollars if people start asking uncomfortable questions about what goes into their favorite moisturizers and perfumes. The formulations smell awesome and perform well; they are proven to sell, and the whole process runs smoothly.
The financial health of this industry depends on what the public knows about risks associated with many of their products. Like any reasonable business (the cosmetic manufacturers didn’t generate this much money by being unreasonable), the beauty industry is doing everything in its power to protect its profits and please its shareholders.
Science and business have long been aware of the links between cosmetics and the meteoric rise of cancer, asthma, diabetes, and a host of other systemic diseases. However, the industries responsible for producing synthetic chemicals have long been seeking, with much success, to downplay or dismiss them. Things aren’t as dramatic as you may think.
No one is paying the scientists to shelve the research results. No one is bribing the media. Things are much more subtle. If a cosmetic company buys a certain number of magazine ads, it’s very unlikely that the editor-in-chief would be happy to read a story about peanut oil that wasn’t mentioned on the label of a sunscreen triggering potentially deadly allergies in hundreds of people, including children—especially since this cosmetic company regularly delivers a boatful of full-size freebies for review and personal use
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