Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Hypocrisy Of Using Scare Tactics To Impact Public Policy

This post was written by an owner of Indie Beauty Network and it brilliantly expresses the opinion of natural cosmetic and skin care manufacturers about EWG and it's scare tactics. I have been talking with some of our customers discussing this issue that I can't spill any light on, nor get any intelligent answers from the source, EWG people themselves. And there are many confused manufacturers of natural cosmetics that feel betrayed by the EWG's scare tactics and it's twisted message aiming for one thing - your donations.

Great post by Donna Maria, and I totally share her opinion.

"Lately, I have enjoyed fast and furious conversations with IBN members about non-governmental organizations’s efforts to spread unwarranted fear about ingredients used in cosmetics. One of those organizations is the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which continues to publish “reports,” which are really thinly veiled scare tactics to support an agenda that seems to include promoting itself as the new FDA.

One of their latest publications places certain products containing active sunscreen ingredients and claiming certain Sun Protection Factors (SPF) on a “Hall Of Shame” list. Also included in the Hall of Shame is the FDA, which regulates cosmetics, and The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Scare tactics of any kind are usually irresponsible and always unhelpful. Let’s consider the details here.

EWG’s Hall Of Shame slams Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55, saying this:

“Can a product be ‘mild as water to the skin’ if the label warns to “Stop use and ask a doctor if rash or irritation develops and lasts”? And certainly when swallowed this product is nothing like water: “Keep out of reach of children” and “get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away,” reads the warning label.”

EWG is slamming the targeted product and the company that makes it for placing language on its labels that reminds consumers to keep sunscreen out of the reach of children. I want to keep all kinds of things away from my children, but that doesn’t mean those things are undesirable or inferior in and of themselves. And what is wrong with letting parents know that, if a sunscreen product is mistakenly ingested, they shouldn’t just panic or sit around whining — they should call for help?!! Of course you should get help if your child eats sunscreen! Duh!

I also noticed that you cannot comment EWG’s Hall Of Fame page. You can Tweet and share it on FaceBook, but you cannot share your opinion, ask questions, or disagree with EWG on their turf. Publishing information designed to affect consumer health and important public policy issues in a forum that does not welcome public discussion and comment is arbitrary and capricious. Again, just my opinion.

Another disturbing consideration is the hypocrisy. Many pages at EWG’s website remind site visitors of how expensive it is to create reports that unnecessarily scare them. Because it’s so expensive to whip you and your friends into an unnecessary tizzy, they invite you not only to donate to the cause, but also to head on over to their Amazon affiliate page to purchase all of the products (including the above-mentioned Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55, available at Amazon), they say are worthy of heir Hall Of Shame. Of course there’s a disclaimer that they don’t endorse any of the products they earn commissions on, but still, shop ’til you drop, I guess literally, for all those dangerous sunscreens and other cosmetics that can harm you and your family.

If some of the products sold by Amazon are inferior or not to be trusted, then it seems disingenuous to encourage the people you claim to be trying to protect to buy them. This sends a potentially conflicting message to consumers that the products are inferior, but if we get paid when you buy them, it’s not so bad after all."

Unbelievable, isn't it? No, it's not unbelievable - it's infuriating that some little organization that appeared from the woodwork just recently, promoting themselves as experts while peddling one sided convenient to them "science" and attempts to shape minds of the consumer. And not only planting misleading information in everyone's brains but asking to be paid for it.

For those who hasn't noticed yet, EWG appears to take one study that suits "their message best" and use that as a fact without taking into account dosage, other studies or common sense. (based on many product ratings on Skin Deep that appear to be taken out of the blue) That sort of fear-mongering and breathless activism scares consumers and makes them question their own knowledge and understanding of the issues.

The problem is that EWG has successfully positioned themselves as THE only authority on cosmetic safety, pretending to mind your best interests at heart. That's a problem because they don't have the credentials. Nor provide any two way communication for those who dares to question. Emailing notoriously and shoving their "science" and reports down the consumer's throat is the only way of communication for them - one sided - regular release of latest panicky breaking news. While asking you for your donation again and again and again. Skin Deep database is still a generally good idea but the result is not unlike putting an elementary school class in charge of deciding public policy. Of course, the class might do better because they wouldn't be swayed by the things adults are. . .but bloopers are eminent and big ones.

If you've heard in one of their reports about Vitamin A and harm it apparently possesses in relation to sunscreens, please read Response to The Environmental Working Group 2010 Report and Senator Schumer.


  1. Please feel free to leave your thought on this.

  2. Hi! I have wondered about the validity of EWG's ratings on products simply because of their "data gap". I wonder if they count on most people not realizing that their ratings are based on a small percentage of data. Most of the products rated have a 85% or higher data gap. That seems pretty high. That being said, I would never have found your products if it weren't for EWG's website and their rating of your products. So on that alone I will be eternally grateful to them and continue to use their information albeit with reservations. Thank you for your products, they are amazing! I bought some samples and you sent me a sample of the stretch mark caviar at the same time. I used it up in a week and started to notice a difference in the prominence of my unsightly stretch marks. I ordered the large jar and have been using it for a couple of days....can't wait to see how my hips and legs look after a month or longer! Thank you also for sending me other samples. As a result, I want to order everything on your menu! The sample you sent of the day cream is wonderful! I am planning on ordering products for my 15 year old daughter who is battling acne. I am anxious to see how they work for her!
    Keep the products coming!


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