Three things I don’t want to find in my Christmas stocking

Three things I don’t want to find in my Christmas stocking

By: Liz Murray
Date: 19 December 2020
Campaigns: Trade

At this time of year, sales of all kinds of cosmetics soar as people buy bubble bath, perfume, make-up and all that kind of thing as gifts for family and friends.

But if the UK and US governments strike a trade deal in the months to come – and there’s no reason to think that Joe Biden won’t want to do that, just as our government does –  then these well-meant presents might come with some nasty surprises in future.

Why? Well, here in the UK we’re currently protected by some of the strongest regulations on chemicals in the world – and that includes chemical ingredients of cosmetics.  1300 ingredients are banned from cosmetics in the UK, with a further 500 being restricted in their use.

By huge contrast, in the US only 11 ingredients are banned. Campaigning colleagues in the US tell us that where they are: “When it comes to cosmetics regulation, it’s the Wild West…”

A trade deal with the US could put huge downward pressure on the regulations that currently protect us here.  It could end up with cosmetics with banned ingredients making their way into the shops here (in which case the only way we’d be able to know which is which is by reading those labels with the teeny tiny writing that you get on cosmetic products). One way or another it’s not good news for our skin.

So what might we find in our Christmas stockings if a trade deal with the US goes ahead?

Here are three things (currently banned or heavily restricted here) that I definitely don’t want to find in my Christmas stocking any time soon:

  • Phthalates. Linked to asthma, ADHD, breast cancer, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.  Used in the US in products such as lipstick, nail polish, eye shadow, lip gloss, eye liner and blush.
  • Parabens. An oestrogen mimic that can affect hormone balance and is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive problems.   Used in the US in products such as lipstick, lip gloss, foundation, eye liner, brow liner, mascara, highlighter, moisturiser and cleanser.
  • Formaldehyde. Classified as a probable human carcinogen.  Used in the US in hair straightening treatments, nail polish and eyelash glue.

And don’t tell Rudolph, but in the US testing cosmetics on animals is still allowed whereas here in the UK, after many years of campaigning, it’s banned. To have that undone by a trade deal with the US would be a huge step backwards.

So, if we don’t want to find phthalates, parabens or formaldehyde – and products tested on animals – in our Christmas stockings in years to come then we need to stop a US-UK trade deal.

Take action today


Image credit: KNOBBYKNEEz, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0