pink cupcakes

Pink – it’s all we’re seeing this month. From pink ribbons to pink packaging, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is loud and proud, as it should be. We’re all for bringing attention to this very widespread disease, but the last time we walked through the cosmetics aisle, we couldn’t help but notice a little something called pinkwashing. We think that companies who tout themselves as supporting the cause should do so with their products, too – not simply their marketing strategy.

For example, Procter & Gamble announced that it will give 10 cents to early breast cancer detection efforts for every new person who joins the company on Facebook. While early detection is crucial, we have a question for P&G: If you care so much, why are your products chockfull of chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and interference with cancer drugs?

Some of P&G’s brands, including Cover Girl, Max Factor and Infusium (among others), contain harmful ingredients we are always careful to steer clear of. In fact, they contain our most-despised dirty chemical ingredients:

1. Phthalates They mess with your hormones, are endocrine disruptors, and they’re everywhere. Used as softeners for plastics, oily substances in perfumes, additives to hairsprays, lubricants and wood finishers, look out, especially if you’re pregnant.

2. Formaldehyde Leave the formaldehyde at the morgue. This preservative is frighteningly common in everything from toothpaste to lotion to shampoo and beyond. Besides being an irritant, it’s a known carcinogen. Manufacturers will try to trick you by using synonyms.

3. Parabens In their myriad forms (methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben or butylparaben), parabens have been linked to breast cancer itself. While the FDA claims they’re not dangerous at low doses, considering the hefty amount of products that do contain them, the combined dose might be anything but low. And P&G definitely uses these!

4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate These foaming agents found in soaps and shampoos are skin irritants and can enter the heart, brain and liver through your skin, where they accumulate in your organs.

5. Toluene Generally found in nail polish and hair dye, Toluene is toxic to the nervous system, and breathing it in can cause dizziness and headaches. High exposures can lead to birth defects and miscarriage, so watch out if you work in a nail salon (and educate your favorite salons!). Toluene-free brands are on the rise.

6. Fragrance Owing to an FDA loophole, companies hawking cosmetics are able to mask a whole slew of nasty chemicals, many of which are phthalates, under the label “fragrance.”

7. Triethanolamine Though used in many “gentle” products to balance PH levels, TEA has been known to cause allergic reactions, irritations and drying out of the hair and skin. With consistent use, TEA is absorbed into the body and accumulates, where it can become toxic.

8. Hydroquinone This skin-bleacher, while banned in Japan, the EU and Australia, is unfortunately still around in the US. Hydroquinone is found in skin-lightening creams, like those that diminish age-spots. It’s linked to cancer and the unsightly skin condition, ochnronosis. and other cosmetics products. 

Instead of supporting P&G and other potential pinkwashers, check out the Keep A Breast Foundation™, an awesome non-profit whose mission is to help eradicate breast cancer by exposing young people to methods of prevention, early detection and support through such things as art events, educational programs and fundraising efforts.

And while you’re at it, join us in asking P&G to stop using chemicals linked to breast cancer.

image: DixieBelleCupcakeCafe