EverythingVeg Feature of the Month

Clean Care Seal - Jenise Lee - Q&A    

Jenise Lee, Clean Care

1. What is Clean Care?

In a nutshell, Clean Care is Canada’s only 3rd party seal of approval for safer beauty & personal care products. The brands we endorse are 100% free of widely used ingredients (like phthalates, parabens and triclosan) which potentially disrupt our hormone and reproductive systems and may potentially cause cancer.

2. What inspired you to start Clean Care?

There are hundreds of budding beauty businesses that provide safer alternatives to traditional beauty products. Unfortunately, they are not reaching their potential customers due to limited marketing budgets and therefore can’t possibly compete with multi-million dollar companies. Also, given all the greenwashing going on, I wanted to devise a way to help Canadians navigate the often misleading marketplace. Clean Care was born to be a matchmaker – identifying the truly safer beauty brands and connecting these brands to interested audiences.

Clean Care Seal

3. How can big companies get away with using harmful chemicals in their products?

The Canadian government uses the Risk-Based Assessment Approach to evaluate the ingredients in our beauty products. Simply put, even if there is reasonable scientific evidence that an ingredient may potentially threaten our health, the Canadian approach assesses the risk – the probability of harm, and approves ingredient if the health risks are “low enough”. So imagine this conversation: “Studies show that ingredient A is a potential carcinogen (cancer causing chemical), however, what are the chances that someone would get cancer? Ah, the assessment shows that the chances are low… Ingredient A is okay to be used”.

Now, let’s take a look at how the European Union reviews its ingredients. They use a hazard based assessment model; basically, if there is a recognized hazard associated with an ingredient it may be banned or restricted. So imagine this conversation: “Studies show that ingredient A is a potential carcinogen. Let’s not allow this ingredient until further studies indicate that it is indeed safe.”

Clearly, I have simplified both approaches but with this information we can understand why EU has banned thousands of harmful ingredients from beauty and personal care products … and Canada has only banned hundreds. Utlimately, the way our government evaluates these ingredients allow companies to use potentially harmful ingredients in our cosmetics and skincare products.

4. What effects can harmful chemicals in beauty products have on our bodies?

There’s a lot of information out there on how certain chemicals can negatively affect our hormonal, reproductive and nervous systems.

For example, according to the David Suzuki Foundation, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) has been classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and listed as a “Category 1 priority substance”, as it may interfere with hormone function, by the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption. In fact, in the State of California, warning labels are required on products containing BHA, notifying consumers that this ingredient may cause cancer. Yet, the use of BHA in cosmetics is unrestricted in Canada.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  • How many liters of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, etc have we been using on our own bodies since the day we were born?
  • If each product is allowed to have a low concentration of potentially harmful ingredients, what are the potential effects of ALL the products we use daily? Who is ensuring that the accumulation of potentially harmful ingredients from all the products we use are actually not hurting us?
  • Similar to the anti-tobacco movement, do we want to let a few decades pass to see what the health effects may be?

These questions should trigger thought. When it comes to the sake of our health and the health of future generations, should these ingredients be “innocent until proven guilty” or “guilty until proven innocent”? Lastly, who should have to do the “proving”? Government? These businesses? Us?

Click here for part 2 of the Q&A with Jenise Lee