Public Opinion on Cosmetic Safety

As part of a course I’m doing, I was required to go out and survey people in public places. I got to make up the question to be posed, so I asked, “Do you think cosmetics are safer now than they were 25 years ago?” I asked about 40 random people on the street–and YIKES was I surprised by the answers!

Random Selection

When I say “random people”—I really mean random. I went out twice, once near the Seattle Space Needle, and once to my local Safeway. About 2/3 of the people I surveyed were women, the remainder were men. Races and ages all varied. Honestly, I just asked the next person that walked by (that wasn’t buried in their phone!)

Are Cosmetics Safer Now Than They Were 25 Years Ago?

The results were surprising to me!

Yes, Cosmetics Safer Now – 45%

Less than half of both men and women felt that cosmetics ARE safer. They cited more research of ingredients, safer ingredients, vegan and paraben-free products, natural products, and increased regulations.

One woman told me that cosmetics are safer because there is much more regulation and the FDA has more power over cosmetics than it did 25 years ago. (Umm, no, not really!)

A younger man told me – with absolute certainty – that chemicals are much safer now. (Huh?)

A beautiful woman in her mid-30’s told me she only uses “natural” cosmetic products (meanwhile she was COMPLETELY made up with products that I could see contained all sorts of non-natural ingredients).

No, Cosmetics Not Safer – 40%

Those that felt cosmetics were not safer cited cancer-causing ingredients, recalls, and false advertising (“lying”).

One person said that the US allows harmful ingredients that other countries have banned to be used in cosmetics. (Well, yes.)

Another cited “lies on the internet” about the science behind the ingredients. (Ah, marketing!)

Don’t Know – 15%

Then there those who didn’t know if cosmetics were safer or not, but most them ferverently hoped so!

My very favorite in this category was a woman who said she didn’t know if they were safer because she didn’t use cosmetics …. meanwhile she was completely made up with foundation, lipstick, lip liner, contouring, blush, eyebrows, mascara, and eye-shadow in a multitude of glittery colors.

My Takeaway?

Cosmetic marketing has been pretty successful in getting people to believe that products are safer and more natural, and that there is more oversight so they can feel more secure in buying and using cosmetic products. The people who tend toward being more optimistic and glass-half-full type folks leaned toward thinking cosmetics are safer.

Meantime, the media has continued their campaign to make whatever they can (including cosmetics) appear dangerous and potentially harmful. Those who tended toward anxiety or were more fearful tended to consider cosmetics (and probably other things in life) were less safe.

And it was about an even split between the two.

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