Can technology help bring awareness to consumers?
It sucks that in this day in age, we have to question everything we consume from the food we eat to the clothes that we wear. Thanks to the internet, we have learned that all around us we are surrounded by deathly, cancer causing chemicals that we can’t escape from. We are slowly realizing that our buying habits promote unethical working conditions for others or create repercussions to mother earth.
Though there is substantial information, there are still relevant facts about most industries where transparency is lacking. Transparency that we are told can be “easily” solved by technology but consumers have yet to see.
Some products have gotten so ingrained into society, that we don’t even think twice about it. For me, first it was the clothing industry (which I address in goodwill guilt) and now it’s makeup. I have always been the first one to say “cheaper is better” but not anymore, now it’s “the more transparency the better.”
According to Reuters, the makeup industry is on track to reach 805B by year 2023 & the skincare market: 177B — that is a total of $982B!! It begs the question: do we actually know the repercussions of what we are putting on our faces & skin? Is it good for us?
Makeup is something every girl & woman wear. It’s rooted in our brains from when we are small children all the way into old age. We see our grandmas, mothers, aunts wearing it: “it’s what the grownups do”.
My mom was never an extensive makeup user except for blush and eyeliner used to enhance her natural features, but she was always particular about LOTION & creams.
Our family suffers from dry skin and perfume allergies, so fragrance-free lotion was a staple in our household. We were always peculiar on the types of lotion we bought, labeled “all natural, fragrance free” , we thought it would do no harm.
We are a big believer of Vaseline — and therefore any Vaseline product we would find, we would use. One such product was Vaseline Aloe Fresh. REAL Aloe has many healing benefits for the skin and we used it as a staple in various home remedies so it was a no brainer for us to buy and use this product.
The birth of the internet changed our perspective — particularly websites like www.ewg.org, giving us the ability to see the toxicity of ingredients in daily products that we would use but had immense side-effects. Ingredients that without the help of the internet we would never know the harms of.
One such ingredient is: Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate) which is rated 8 of 10 on the toxicity scale due to high hazard concerns, cancer development, reproductive toxicity & organ failure.
This ONE ingredient, for example, is in many lotions that are widely used today. I never read labels before the internet, but even if I had and saw “Rentinyl Acetate (Vitamin A Acetate)”, that would translate (to me) as Vitamin A… which can’t be bad for me to use, right?
In fact, unbelievably so, this same ingredient is found in the brand HEMPZ Lotions but the branding is misleading. I would never think twice to read the label. For us, hemp enthusiasts, we know that historically hemp was used for many benefits: we could make clothes and there were known natural benefits from the plant. So why would the lotion be any different?
It’s just another reason why we must be careful and read ALL of our labels not just for the food we eat, but for the stuff we lather all over our bodies. The problem: when most of us glance at the ingredients in a product we are unsure what it actually is.
Finding out facts like these is what made me completely stop lotions all together, and switch to oils: Coconut, Sesame, JoJoba. No more lotions in my bathroom — I am lazy and don’t want to read labels.
This was 2 years ago.
What didn’t cross my mind was make-up! How could I NOT think of this immediately after skin care?
I am a woman of color who suffers from eczema (on my eyes & neck specifically), so finding a makeup that fits my skin tone/type has proved to be extremely difficult. It was easy for me to stick with one brand and never deviate. Moreover, my doctor has told me to never wear foundation or if I do, to ONLY have a powder base.
The problem with powder base foundation is that it doesn’t stay all day and ends up looking streaky, so of course, I switched to liquid. But like lotion, there are also toxic ingredients in makeup products such as: Propylparaben.
Propylparaben is synthetically produced to ensure low production costs of products such as eye shadow, eye liner and foundation — but since it mimics estrogen in the body you can gain weight, have reproductive issues, retain fluids and is possibly cancer causing.
First thought: why is this FDA approved? The FDA has said that low percentages of propylparaben is not a hazard. But the hazard is that so many of our daily makeup products has this ingredient, that it all adds up to a higher percentage making it toxic for our bodies — and possibly a higher probability of those side effects to come through.
There are pioneers who are paving the awareness for natural beauty in skincare & makeup such as: Beauty Counter & Follian, but the product options to choose from are much less. Similar to ethical vs. non-ethical clothing, consumers are used to having a vast number of choices reduced to minimal choices.
And consumers like choices. We are obsessed with watching youtube reviews, beauty bloggers etc. try on new products & learning how to contour our own faces… that naturally we want brands that have options. There is brand loyalty and it is much harder to pivot — this is why the beauty industry is on track to be a $982B industry!
According to statista.com, only 21.78B projected by 2024 for the Natural Beauty market. That’s not even 1% of the market!
The awareness of what goes into our products whether it’s food, cosmetics, skincare, clothes is all based on the lack of transparency that we have as consumers. 25 years ago, we didn’t know better. We thought that brands & the FDA had our backs. Brands are trying to reduce their toxicity but we don’t know to what level. We know better now, but not enough to make educated decisions.
There must be solutions through technology to help us evolve, save our environment, reduce disease, create consciousness of our consumption and ultimately save humanity.
Technologists & Marketing Gurus, this is a cry for help!
Can we use block chain for transparency (so we know where our products come from)? Can we get an app to decipher what is on our labels for us in laymans terms (and easy to use via AR) to warn us?
I believe that through technology, we can create positive change to eliminate toxic ingredients from our everyday consumption.