WeBuyItGreen Establishes New Criteria for Natural Makeup Using Skin Deep Data

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WeBuyItGreen, an online eco shopping mall, has developed new criteria for the health and beauty products that it promotes. Faced with little U.S. federal regulation of the cosmetic industry, the company has turned to research by the Environmental Working Group to establish criteria for accepting beauty products on its site. This use of publicly available EWG data gives smaller companies unable to afford third-party certification access to greater credibility and a wider market.

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Lack of federal regulation renders this market a mine field for potential health risks and deceptive marketing.

WeBuyItGreen, an online eco shopping mall, has developed new criteria for the health and beauty products that it promotes. They must either include ingredients that are certified organic by a reliable third party or be given a hazard rating of two or less by the Environmental Working Group's "Skin Deep" database. This use of the publicly accessible EWG database to establish criteria for healthy personal care products assists smaller merchants for whom the costs of third-party certification are prohibitive, giving them credibility and access to a wider market.

Unlike food and drugs, cosmetics in the U.S. do not have to be tested for safety before they are sold. According to the Environmental Working Group, "More than 750 personal care products sold in the U.S. violate industry safety standards or cosmetic safety standards in other industrialized countries. . . . 98% of all products contain one of more ingredients never publicly assessed for safety. . . . More than one-third of all personal care products contain at least one ingredient linked to cancer."

Moreover, U.S. courts have not allowed the FDA to regulate industry use of terms like "natural." Cosmetic marketers can by law assign such terms whatever meaning they choose. They can interpret the term "organic" to simply mean "contains carbon." According to the WeBuyItGreen eco library, "Lack of federal regulation renders this market a mine field for potential health risks and deceptive marketing."

The company has turned to EWG research and their public database to meet the challenge of sorting out genuine from misleading claims regarding the potential impacts of beauty products on health and the environment. Jay Kilby, owner of WeBuyItGreen, notes that this is not an entirely satisfactory solution to the cosmetic safety issue. EWG relies on information about ingredients from other publicly available research, but because safety testing for cosmetics is not required by law, there is no public information about many of the ingredients in beauty care products. Nevertheless, requiring an EWG hazard score of two or less does eliminate a substantial majority of products currently on the market and significantly reduce the risk of harmful health or environmental effects.

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Robert Kilby
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