Twisty gets it and expresses it better than anyone I know of.
There is a "pink ribbon" group - that to support breast cancer research is doing a thing where women (and men - but that's beside the point) are encouraged to send pictures of their breasts and then other people pay $50 to ogle them (as a donation). And what if all of the women sent pictures like the one Twisty has with this post - the picture of a breast cancer survivor after a mastectomy. Would the people paying $50 feel like they had been cheated? How do the "pink ribbon" people think this is supposed to make mastectomy women feel? As if they are in some sort of solidarity? That isn't the message that I am getting.
(Twisty is donating $1 to Breast Cancer Action for each person who posts that they are NOT sending her a photo of their breasts. You gotta love her.)
The Breast Cancer Action people that Twisty links to - also get it. I recommend donating to them if you want to donate to somebody. They also have advice on avoiding Parabens & Phthalates - things esp. found in women's cosmetics - largely unregulated in the US - but which are regulated in Europe (though there are organizations set up to fight that, also).
"There is no pre-market health or safety screening for cosmetics. In fact, the $35 billion dollar beautry industry has been largely self-regulated in the US, which results in not much regulation at all." (Corporate Cover-Up: The regulation of our Cosmetics).
Personal Care Products That Contain Chemicals Linked to Cancer, Birth Defects, and Other Reproductive Problems Detailed list (from EWG).
Article in the Nation from 12.04 : New Power for 'Old Europe'
Article from the Wall Street Journal 4.04 (posted at Organic Consumers Association): Cosmetic Companies Debate Removing Carcinogenic Chemicals from Products
From the Society of Cosmetic Chemists (NYC)
A new European Union chemicals regulation will be passed by the European Parliament in early 2007. Although this is a chemicals regulation, the cosmetics industry has not been exempted and will be impacted. REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of CHemicals. All cosmetics ingredients manufactured and sold within the European Union or those imported in after REACH takes effect will require a registration number. Finished goods that are imported into the European Union will require documentation that all individual ingredients are similarly registered.
The REACH regulation shifts the burden for data generation and risk assessment from the regulators to the manufacturers and importers. No existing chemicals are grandfathered. A key principle is NO DATA, NO MARKET.
As far as "shifting the burden" In the US - there are virtually no regulators, anyway. But it has been interesting to see the US manufacturers have to comply with the EU's regulations if they want to sell over there - it shows that it can be done and that companies are willing to do it if they must.
It seems that really - this would be easier for a large company to do unless there were reliable studies done for various ingredients (and their combinations) with data that anyone could access.
While cancer-causing agents can come from a variety of sources - known and unknown - it makes sense for a women's campaign against cancer to take on the cosmetic industry - what with as many women who use those things.
Breast Cancer Action also endorses Prevention First with the motto: "Public Health before Private Profit".