The Hightower Report: Cosmetic Giants Wage Nonstop Makeup War

There's formaldehyde in your makeup, America. Do you even care?

In the U.S. alone, the cosmetics industry pulls in some $70 billion a year in sales of what's commonly called "makeup." But lipsticks, mascara, eye shadow, etc., are not the only kind of makeup the cosmetic giants are peddling.

For years, their lobbyists, lawyers, and PR agents have been making up facts, stories, half-truths, and whole lies to keep lawmakers and regulators from banning various cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting ingredients that their products contain. One especially nasty example of this is the continuing campaign by L'Oreal, Revlon, and the industry's Personal Care Products Council to keep putting formaldehyde in everything from baby wipes to hair straighteners.

Back in 1981, the National Toxicology Program, an interagency scientific panel, first listed this noxious chemical as a likely human carcinogen. Cosmetics makers erupted with a volcano of outrage, and the NTP findings were buried. But the toxicologists, pushed by consumer and environmental groups, kept doing even deeper research, and in 2011, NTP listed formaldehyde as "known to be a human carcinogen."

That should have been that, but corporate lobbyists got their congressional puppets to assail NTP for flawed research and for interfering in private business. However, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences has been reviewing that research and has now unequivocally endorsed NTP's findings – even adding that new research shows that formaldehyde may cause a much wider array of cancers than previously known.

So, after 33 years, the health of babies finally wins one over cosmetic profiteers, right? Not quite yet. Incredibly, the products of Revlon and L'Oreal still contain cancer-causing formaldehyde, and both of the greedheaded giants continue to balk at necessary reforms. To keep up and join the fight, go to

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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formaldhyde, cosmetics, formaldehyde

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