Photo: Love the Label!

By Erin Callary

As a health-conscious person who uses personal-care products each day (who doesn't?), the David Suzuki Foundation's report about toxic ingredients in cosmetics made me think twice about the chemicals that I've been putting onto my body. I started to tell my friends to look more closely at the ingredients in their make-up, lotions and shampoos. After all, university students like us are a target demographic for the cosmetic industry, and if we are better informed, we can make safer healthier choices.

One of my inspirations is the "Love the Label" campaign, started by Marina and Lucia DeMarco, two sisters studying at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. Their goal is to create awareness about the many toxic chemicals commonly found in personal-care products, which can act as hormone-disruptors, allergens, lung irritants and carcinogens. They believe that we have the right to be aware of the chemicals we put onto our bodies and that as consumers we can make a difference. By reading labels and avoiding products with nasty ingredients like the Dirty Dozen, we send a message to industry and the government that our products simply should not contain toxic ingredients.

Marina and Lucia and a group of their friends started the campaign after they visited the cosmetics database and realized that the products they used all contained potentially harmful and toxic chemicals. Concerned, they set up Love the Label to promote products that do not contain harmful chemicals. The campaign was launched during their recent clubs week, where they set up a "Products on Trial" booth — showing cosmetics and their corresponding toxicity level. They passed out copies of the Shopper's Guide to a Dirty Dozen Cosmetic Ingredients ,and had over 350 people sign petition postcards to Health Canada.

Marina and Lucia hope that Love the Label will one day grow into a nationwide campaign, set up at many different universities, and colleges. I hope so too!

Erin Callary is an intern at the David Suzuki Foundation and is completing a degree in environmental studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. Love the Label will be online soon at:

November 18, 2010

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Jan 20, 2011
12:23 PM

Thank you all for your interest!! This is a very important subject that we care about a lot!! Our website is just going through the finishing touches!! I just wanted to say that with the LUSH HANDMADE COSMETICS you have to be VERY CAREFUL, because a lot of the ingredients they use are linked to cancer, immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption, etc. They list ingredients like Cocomide DEA which is “derived from coconuts” but altered, and according to skin deep, it is rated a 6 for safety (zero=best, 10=worst)! Pay attention to others I saw listed on their site like methyl and propyl parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Talc!

I always love hearing about people who are ALL natural and there are many other great, affordable Canadian companies out their you can support that don’t use any of these ingredients!! STAY TUNED!!

Jan 13, 2011
1:02 AM

When will the website launch? I would like to use less chemicals but sometimes the alternatives are expensive or hard to find. I thnk there should be a website that lists affordable companies that have safe products.

Dec 15, 2010
11:39 PM

That’s why I love LUSH HANDMADE COSMETICS. I make a point of buying all my skincare, shampoo and shower products from Lush only. Nothing compares to their products and minimal packaging. Check them out online and if there is a shoppe near where you live, you have to go check them out. The products are eye candy and will arouse your senses with pure essential oils. Staff are extremely knowledgeable and they never test on animals.

Nov 26, 2010
7:05 PM

Great post Erin! We agree — it’s so important to read labels, especially of products that go on your skin. After all, lots of creams boast things like “with avocado”, or “with olive oil”… well, why not just use the safe food product then on its own?? Or support businesses who do make natural, chemical-free products. Hopefully this Love the Label business will take off and help women and men all around Canada make healthier choices.

Nov 22, 2010
6:04 AM

Just a suggestion. Re-read the first sentence. Is the David Suzuki foundation a user of cosmetics. You’ve made a common error. It’s easy to correct. An “I am” should follow the clause.

Nov 20, 2010
2:12 PM

This is a very important topic, Erin! As someone who uses mascara (among hundreds of other beauty products) on a regular basis, it makes me think about the chemicals I am willing to put so close to my eyes and onto my skin! Yikes!

Nov 19, 2010
1:20 PM

This should be read by all environmental sciences students.

Nov 19, 2010
9:38 AM

As Marina & Lucia’s mother, I want to thank you, Erin, for your blog. This is such an important topic and we need to keep it at the forefront of people’s minds. As an environmentalist, I have followed the reduce, reuse, recycle program, used the cloth diapers, breast fed the children, but it took my daughters to open my eyes to the toxic cosmetics issue. For that I am grateful and very proud. They have added a strand to our environmental web that many of our family and friends are now following. The tip cards from Love the Label & The David Suzuki Foundation have become excellent tools to pass out to people — the response has been one of “OMG.” Any lightbulb moment is a good moment. Thanks for keeping this current. Best wishes, Susan & other equally interested daughter, Micaela

Nov 18, 2010
1:38 PM

We are suffering at the hands of our enemy . Time to kick all neo-cons to the curb . Just when we thought we were getting somewhere on the climate change file we get ambushed by a pack of dinosaurs . Funny that they deny evolution as this pack of fossils in the Senate proves otherwise .

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