CSE study on cosmetics: consumers demand strict regulations

Delhi women say study has disproved the notion that international and expensive brands are safe to use

By Kundan Pandey, Mouna Nagaraju
Published: Thursday 16 January 2014

The study by Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), which found the presence of toxic heavy metals in cosmetic products, has triggered major concern among consumers. They want the government to intervene and enforce tight regulations on the cosmetics industry.  Restricting the whole population from using cosmetics is not feasible but regulation can do the job, they suggest.

CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Lab (PML) detected presence of chromium and nickel in major brands of lipsticks it tested. It also found mercury in fairness creams. Use of mercury in cosmetics is prohibited in India. Both national and multinational companies failed to adhere to this rule.

Shaili Singh, a 27-year-old resident of Anand Vihar area of east Delhi, who runs a handicrafts showroom, says the regulatory system in India is full of loopholes. “Anyone can use it for personal benefit.” The study will hopefully prompt a debate in society about safety of cosmetics, she adds.

Millie Rathi, 22, who resides in Vasant Kunj area in south Delhi, also in the handicrafts business, expressed concern over the health impacts of beauty products. “We use international brands hoping it will not be harmful for our health, but the CSE study has proved such notion wrong.” The use of cosmetics is so high in the country that even little carelessness on the part of manufacturers or government can harm thousands of users, she points out.

Rekha Jolly, a 61-year-old woman, says people of her age generally do not go into details of cosmetic products. “But the younger generation is interested in understanding the minute details of the products they are using. But there is not enough work which can guide them,” she points out. The CSE research is quite valuable in this sense, says Jolly who is in the hospitality business. She says pressure must be built on the government to regulate the cosmetics industry.

Who will stop offensive fairness cream ads?

Sia Sarkar (name changed), a 20-year-old student of Lady Sriram College in south Delhi says she uses cosmetics sparingly and that the CSE study has made her more determined to avoid these products. Sarkar, a resident of Ghaziabad who is dusky complexioned, says the marketing tactics adopted by producers of fairness creams is quite humiliating for people who are not fair complexioned. Their claims that they can make people fairer is very discriminatory and humiliating; they must be stopped from doing so, she asserts.

Another Delhi University student, Ayesha Chaudhary, a resident of Khanpur says that if big brands don’t care for the health of consumers, where would a common person go? “If they continue to be irresponsible like they are, they must be banned,” she says while complaining that the government is not sensitive enough.

A group of girls, Kiran Srivastava, Savita and Manisha Chaudhary, who work for a food chain Saket area of south Delhi echoed similar views and want the government to take appropriate action.


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