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Revlon: Age defying make-up or toxic beauty?

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For millions of women worldwide, cosmetics are a part of our daily routine. Whether its getting all dolled up with a full face of foundation, lip stick, eye shadow, eye liner and mascara or as simple as dusting on a veil of mineral powder and a dab of lip gloss, beauty products are an essential part of making ourselves feel and look beautiful. What if the ingredients in your favorite eye shadow, sworn by beauty cream or must have lipstick were linked to breast cancer, premature aging, endocrine disruption, allergic reactions, developmental and reproductive toxicity? Next time you reach to age defy your skin with the latest beauty innovation from Revlon or L'Oreal, the toxic hazards that potentially go with these popular beauty brands may not be "worth it" when it comes to your health.

Recently, a petition has been circulating on Change.org calling for Revlon to take immediate action to replace harmful chemicals such as butylated hydroxytoluene, octinoxate, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives ( Quaternium-15 and DMDM hydantoin) and parabens found in a variety of their products in favor of more natural ingredients like oregano, thyme, rosemary, goldenseal root, grapefruit seed extract and lavender oil. Parabens alone have been linked to disruption of the same endocrine (hormone) system responsible for development, behavior and metabolism on the cellular level while formaldehyde and their formaldehyde releasing counterparts (FRPs) are known to cause allergies and cancer. The collective brainchild of cancer survivors, Revlon customers and women's rights advocacy group, Ultra Violet, the petition has been met with strong opposition from the cosmetics mogul, resulting in a cease and desist letter threatening legal action against the grass roots organization. Ironically, Revlon plays host to its annual cancer fundraising event, the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women in New York and Los Angeles, which has donated $65 million in funds raised to find breakthrough research, innovative treatments and contributed to the development of the pioneer gene treatment, Herceptin® in addition to other key therapies since its inception in 1994.

The beauty conglomerate has also come under fire this past year for its portrayal as a cruelty free cosmetics company, a deception that animal rights activist group, PETA did not take sitting down. A representative of PETA not so subletly disguised as a stockholder, blatantly confronted Revlon at a stockholder's meeting on its animal testing policy only to unearth they do indeed comply with the rules and regulations of the country in which its products are sold, even if laboratory animal testing is mandatory. So far to date, Revlon has pulled its operations in China (Revlon to exit China business to cut costs) yet has not followed in the footsteps of its competitors Cover Girl and Johnson & Johnson (Neutrogena, Clean & Clear) in reformulating its beauty formulas sans any of the hazardous substances in question, calling claims by Ultra Violet, the Breast Cancer Fund and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' as "false and misleading." Senior Vice-President of Corporate Communications, Christine Taylor (parent company, MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings) attests to Revlon's cooperation with Congress to substantiate the falsehood of these allegations.

A pledge to take action now would revive the company's image as cruelty free, safe for consumers and a cutting edge, front runner in natural ingredient based make-up and skin care brands. Which begs to question 'does Revlon care' about silencing its critics and naysayers or is the American beauty brand's bottom line more important? Perhaps only time, constant consumer pressure and the list of ingredients on the back of Revlon's world famous signature packaging will tell.

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References:

www.safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=599
www.change.org/petitions/women-deserve-safe-cosmetics
www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/loreal-and-revlon
http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/revlon_toxic_chemicals
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304682504579153842632252528
http://www.eifoundation.org/content/eif-revlon-run-walk-2012

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