Making Progress for Women … And the World

Lezlee Westine
President & CEO, Personal Care Products Council

The cosmetics and personal care products industry celebrates women every day of the year, and our commitment to well-being starts with our support for women in work and in life.

International Women’s Day (IWD), global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, gives us an opportunity to reflect on our commitment to women. We fundamentally support that an equal world is an empowered world. Our industry agrees that we must challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.

From Estée Lauder to Madam CJ Walker to Elizabeth Arden to Jo Malone to a new generation of female founders emerging today, no industry has as many female success stories as the beauty and personal care industry. Today, more than half our executives are women.  Women make up nearly two-thirds of our workforce, and women of color are leading voices. Our companies’ efforts for women in the workforce are recognized by Top Companies for Executive Women, Working Mother’s 100 Best Companies and Forbes’ America’s Best Employers for Women.

Our industry’s commitment to women and the world around us is unparalleled. As part of our commitment to providing products that enhance quality of life, companies make a significant and positive social impact that goes far beyond the direct benefits of their products. They support a wide range of CSR programs, issues, and causes that improve lives and make communities better. Companies in the beauty and personal care sector are generous charitable donors; per $1 million of sales, their annual charitable contributions are more than double the national average for other major industry sectors.

From the industry’s signature program, Look Good…Feel Better that helps people with cancer improve their self-esteem and confidence by helping them manage the appearance related side effects of cancer treatment, to programs supporting women’s empowerment and leadership; promoting STEM education and careers for women; initiatives addressing domestic violence; supporting breast cancer awareness, detection and treatment; campaigns promoting self-esteem; and programs tackling racial bias, our industry’s commitment to women and the world around them is strong.

International Women’s Day throughout its history has witnessed significant change and attitudinal shifts in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. The same is true for the personal care products industry. Our member companies are constantly adapting, not only to meet consumer preferences but also to help shape the future.

We know women expect a lot from us and want us to take action and to continuously improve our products and practices. While we are proud of the progress we have made, we know there is more to do. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we celebrate the progress we have all made together and continue our commitment to supporting women and the world around them.

Celebrating Black History Month and Madam C.J. Walker: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Activist and Self-Made Business Woman

Lisa Powers
EVP, Public Affairs & Communications, Personal Care Products Council

“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”

-Madam Walker

Madam C.J. Walker started her business at the turn of the century, at a time when women, including women of color, had few rights and little opportunity. Along with her contemporaries Helena Rubenstein, who opened her first beauty salon, the Valaze House of Beauty in 1902, and Elizabeth Arden, who’s renowned Red Door Salon was established in 1910, these women were pioneers in the beauty industry. They knew that the end game was less about beauty itself, although the benefits of self-confidence derived from these products were already well-established, it was more about female empowerment.

Madam Walker’s great-great-granddaughter and biographer A’Lelia Bundles sat down with us to tell us more about this amazing trailblazer.

Q. What inspired Madam C. J. Walker to start her business and why did it become such an important force for black women more than a century ago?

“It is really interesting to look at Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubenstein and Madam Walker as part of a group of women who, at the turn of the last century, were pioneers of this modern haircare and cosmetics industry. They really did see a need in the market at a time when men were either ignoring the business aspects or didn’t view it as something important. And, it’s really amazing how they took home recipes and concoctions that were sold locally or regionally and turned those businesses into international operations with distribution and marketing. These women are part of the pantheon that created this industry.

Madam Walker saw a need because she had a personal problem-she had challenges with losing her hair- and she developed a shampoo and ointment with sulfur that healed the scalp, which became Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, her most important product. The women whom she first treated just wanted to have healthier hair, and then she realized, that it wasn’t just about helping women have healthier hair, it was about helping women become economically independent. So in many ways, she was healing their scalps, but in other ways she was healing their souls and self-confidence. She trained thousands of women, traveled all over the United Sates, demonstrating her product and over a period of time, the hair care products became a means to a more significant end. Once she saw this transformation happening in women, she realized they needed to, not just look better and feel better, but they needed education and they needed economic opportunities.”

Q. Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 in Louisiana, of humble beginnings, Madam Walker became a celebrated entrepreneur, philanthropist and social activist. Reflecting on her legacy, it is clear that she had purpose beyond making money, and that she intended to use her platform to create positive social impacts in communities across the country. Not only an advocate for women’s empowerment, Madam Walker also believed strongly in supporting communities. What can you tell us about how she used her platform to inspire positive change?

“At her first convention of sales agents in 1917, Madam Walker gave prizes to the women who had sold the most products and brought in the most new agents. She also gave prizes to women whose local clubs and chapters had contributed the most to charity. During her keynote address, she said, I want others to look at us and realize that as Walker Agents, we care not just about ourselves, but about others. And at the end of the convention, the women sent a telegram to President Woodrow Wilson urging him to support legislation to make lynching a federal crime. Madam Walker viewed her agents as community leaders and as women who were making a difference in the community. As she traveled around demonstrating her products, she would give a lecture that was more about what was happening in the black community, in education, and in politics, and try to identify other women who could be leaders in their communities. The seeds that Madam Walker planted recognized that we need to feel good about ourselves, but we also need education and financial independence.”

Q. Do you think business has an obligation to provide more than shareholder value? Is there a broader remit for the modern company, like your great-great- grandmother envisioned?

“There are some truly wealthy people today, who believe they have an obligation to give back, because others have sacrificed. Greed is not good. Corporations need to give to their communities. Corporations need to give back and there are a lot of great models today. I grew up in Indianapolis and the Lilly Endowment has been extremely generous to the community and has made Indianapolis a better place because of the investments it makes in education and cultural activities. So you can tell the difference in a city where a locally based corporation really wants to improve its community and not just profit from its community. You can truly tell the difference when the leadership of a company has a generous spirit and believes in its people.”

Q. Madam Walker’s successful direct sales business model was built on training and educating women in small towns across the country, providing them with skills and the opportunity to become economically independent and provide for their families. The beauty sector today is characterized by the employment opportunities it presents for women, people of color and small businesses. Today the sector has more women in management positions than the national average. What would Madam Walker say about the opportunities for women in business today? Have we made any progress?

“I think she would be happy to see so many women CEOs both in companies that they founded themselves, and in companies founded by other people in which they have worked their way up through the corporation. But, I think that she would also be frustrated, that less than 2% of venture capital is invested in women owned businesses, and businesses owned by women of color. She’d be happy to see there are more women millionaires, and more than one black woman billionaire, but she would think that there are still not enough women running the c- suites and not enough money being invested in women’s ventures.”

Q. What started as a restorative scalp treatment, Madam C.J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, became a thriving hair care company. Leveraging innovative marketing and sales approaches like using her likeness on packaging, with before and after imagery, placing her products on college campuses, and offering sales incentives, Madam Walker was well ahead of her time. Describing her concept and method of hair growth as beauty culture, and linking it to the positive appearance and conduct of black women, Madam Walker was in so many ways, without social media as we know it today, an influencer. Who are the role models and influencers that inform your attitudes about the world?

“My mother. She was very smart and knew how to bring people together and had very strong opinions. My mother was Vice President of the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company while I was growing up. And of course, studying the details of Madam Walker’s life and the breadth of her experience as a philanthropist, entrepreneur and suffragette and all of those other dimensions of her life has influenced me greatly. Marie Johns, with whom I grew up in Indianapolis, is someone I admire because she has managed to be a CEO, but she was also the person who cooks Thanksgiving dinner, or calls her friends and has them come over. The women who lives where they can be successful but also have generous spirits are the ones I admire most.”

Q. One of the most successful women entrepreneurs and the first self-made female millionaire, Madam Walker was a visionary with extraordinary courage, who pushed boundaries and challenged the status quo. What advice do you think Madam Walker would offer to young women starting their own businesses today?

“What she often said was first you must have a really great product and then you have to advertise and promote that product. If she were alive today, she would be on Instagram- she was an early adopter- and she understood the power of advertising. One of the reasons she moved to Indianapolis was because she had a mail order business and it had good distribution, because of its location and the train, but also because it had three black newspapers, including a nationally distributed newspaper, the Indianapolis Freeman, which was like a black USA Today, and she took out an ad in the paper, with a before and after picture, that demonstrated the product’s performance and included testimonials. She also surrounded herself with a strong executive team and she had a knack for selecting the right people. Lastly, she understood the power of philanthropy and doing for others. Her philanthropy she did out of the goodness of her heart, but it also elevated her in the eyes of the public.”

About A’Lelia Bundles

Author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles writes biographies about the amazing women in her family: entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker and Harlem Renaissance icon A’Lelia Walker. She also frequently lectures at conferences, colleges, corporations and other venues about entrepreneurship, philanthropy, financial literacy and women’s and African American studies or history. She is at work on her fifth book, The Joy Goddess of Harlem: A’Lelia Walker and the Harlem Renaissance, about her great-grandmother whose parties, arts patronage and travels helped define the era.

Images 1 and 2 courtesy of Madam Walker Family Archives/A’Lelia Bundles

Creating a More Beautiful and Sustainable Future

Pamela Gill Alabaster
Contributing Writer

Sustainability is certainly on everyone’s mind these days. But what does sustainable really mean? For the cosmetics and personal care products industry, it means many things.

Sustainable products maintain an appropriate balance between their impact on the environment and social and economic value. From the extraction and creation of renewable and fossil fuel derived raw materials, through development and production, packaging and distribution, and finally including the customer experience and end of life disposal, sustainability is a complex and essential industry value.

The cosmetics and personal care products industry is deeply committed to integrating sustainability into their business practices and the products used by millions of consumers who trust and rely on them each day to enhance quality of life.

While these efforts have been underway for many years, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) released its first-ever sustainability report this month, “Creating a More Beautiful World.” The comprehensive report captures the industry’s commitment to ethical and transparent practices, the responsible management of environmental impacts, as well as the economic and social value of the industry.

Key elements of the report include insights and analysis of industry efforts, including:

  • Supporting a Low Carbon Economy—More than two-thirds of PCPC members actively manage their operations’ energy use and carbon emission. Many companies support the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement, have committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
  • Water Conservation—Many companies conduct water use analysis and risk assessments to develop strategies to reduce water demand, increase water reuse and address challenges associated with individual water basins. In addition, many companies develop products formulated to use less water.
  • Waste Management—Many of our members work to streamline and ultimately reduce waste in their manufacturing processes, including identifying what can be recycled into new materials or recovered to generate energy, and are committed to sending zero waste to landfills from their manufacturing sites.
  • Product Stewardship—Companies are taking numerous actions to reduce their use of plastic packaging, use more recycled plastic and increase the recyclability of the plastic packaging they use. Additionally, PCPC is part of the Sustainable Packaging Initiative for Cosmetics (SPICE), a coalition of cosmetics companies working together to define guidelines for sustainable packaging.
  • Corporate Citizenship—Per $1 million of sales, the annual charitable contributions from cosmetics and personal care companies are more than double the national average for other major industry sectors. Look Good Feel Better, a public service program that helps individuals with cancer improve their self-esteem and confidence by helping them deal with the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment, has served 2 million women in 27 countries since 1989.

“While we are proud of the efforts individual companies are making in the sustainable management of their businesses, we recognize companies large and small still have more to do,” said Lezlee Westine, president and CEO for the Personal Care Products Council. “Our goal is to work in coalition, together with other like-minded organizations, to help create a more beautiful and sustainable world for us all.”

George Calvert, chairman of the PCPC Board of Directors and chief supply chain officer for Amway reinforces this commitment: “Our constant pursuit of improved sustainability is both good business and good stewardship. For years to come, our collective efforts will advance our industry’s reputation, create new opportunities for our teams, drive growth and make a positive impact on the world.”

So, where do we go from here? As member companies continue to innovate and to lessen the impacts created in the production, packaging and distribution processes, PCPC is redoubling its efforts to bring together members committed to help drive best practices toward a more sustainable future.

Ultimately, sustainability is about the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants. I am so proud to be part of this industry and excited to see where the passion and commitment sustainability takes us.

Pamela Alabaster serves as chief marketing and communications officer for Centric Brands and has been recognized by TriplePundit and Forbes as among the top women in sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility. Prior to her role at Centric Brands, Alabaster worked for the beauty industry for more than 25 years.

To New Beginnings…

Lezlee Westine
President & CEO, Personal Care Products Council

We will soon celebrate a new decade, just as the Personal Care Products Council’s (PCPC) 125th anniversary year comes to an end. So much has happened over the last decade and the last year. I remain incredibly proud to be a part of this industry and of the work of PCPC’s staff on behalf of our member companies and consumers around the world.

Our organization advocates for modern government policies, sound science and global access, while working to strengthen public trust in the beauty and personal care industry.

In 2019, we continued to work with policymakers and advocacy groups to modernize state and federal laws. I’ve shared my perspective on the importance of modernizing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s regulatory structure for cosmetics. Our Executive Vice President of Global Advocacy, Francine Lamoriello, has written about how the Humane Cosmetics Act brings us closer to eliminating the need for animal testing with a historic agreement reached with the Humane Society. You may have read a statement from our Chief Scientist, Alex Kowcz, on the critical public health benefit of sunscreens or testimony from Dr. Jay Ansell, Vice President of Cosmetic Programs, which he delivered before California’s assembly committee on environmental safety. From cosmetics reform and animal testing to sunscreens and ingredient safety, we’ve been actively engaging leaders around the world to ensure policies are rooted in the best available science and to reiterate our commitment to communities far and wide.

We have also made investments to advance our industry’s approach to sustainability—an important industry-wide initiative that our members will hear about during our Annual Meeting next March. Our companies are committed to creating a more beautiful world. PCPC’s sustainability program honors that commitment through our focus on four key areas: dynamic economic growth, exemplary citizenship, environmental stewardship, and ethical and transparent practices.

We value the important role that cosmetics and personal care products have played in the lives of families for generations, and we remain dedicated to advocating for our industry’s ability to deliver safe, quality, and innovative products that enhance consumers health and well-being.

2020 will be an exciting year for the beauty and personal care industry. I look forward to continuing our work together.

Happy Holidays.

Humane Cosmetics Act Brings Us Closer to Eliminating Need for Animal Testing for Cosmetics

Francine Lamoriello
EVP, Global Strategies, Personal Care Products Council

It’s often said that the most challenging part of a marathon is the final mile. The goal of eliminating animal testing is a similar journey – one that cosmetics and personal care products companies have been at the forefront of for more than 40 years. The industry has significantly reduced the use of animals in product safety testing through substantial investments in research and development of alternative methods and strategies that do not rely on animals. We are proud of the progress that has been made so far and are committed to the goal of completely eliminating the need for animal testing to assure cosmetic product safety.

Widespread use of non-animal approaches throughout our supply chains is an important and necessary goal to assure our vision. In an effort to harmonize and encourage global adoption of modern approaches to safety assessment, the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) works closely with international regulators in the International Cooperation on Cosmetic Regulation (ICCR), and we encourage regulatory acceptance of non-animal approaches in every country where our members sell their products. We continue to work closely with our partners, including Cruelty Free International (CFI) and the Humane Society of the United States to advance policies that support improvements in legislation, regulation and science.

We reached a critical milestone in 2019 with the introduction in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives of the Humane Cosmetics Act. The bill prohibits new animal testing of cosmetics and their ingredients and prohibits the sale in the United States of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. Specifically, the legislation:

Prohibits animal testing and bans the use of evidence from animal testing to establish the safety of a cosmetic or cosmetic ingredient unless there is no non-animal alternative method or strategy recognized by any Federal agency or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for the relevant safety endpoints and other very strict criteria are met.

Requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promote scientific advancements in this area.

Bans cosmetics manufacturers from including “cruelty free” claims on their packaging if animal testing data was used to establish the safety of the product or any of its ingredients.

Creates a national uniform standard for animal welfare.

Eliminating animal testing in an ambitious goal. Working with animal welfare groups and members of Congress to enact this important legislation helps us protect animal welfare while supporting the continued development of safe and innovative cosmetics and personal care products.

You can read more about the legislation here in a bill summary developed by the Personal Care Products Council and the Humane Society of the United States.

America Recycles Day

Pamela Gill Alabaster
Contributing Writer

America Recycles Day encourages citizens to reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle – in all aspects of their life. Established in 1997 by the National Recycling Coalition, November 15 remains a day dedicated to awareness and education about proper waste disposal.

The benefits of recycling are well documented, including reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, preserving finite raw materials, saving energy, and reducing carbon emissions and its related impact on global warming. In the last year, however, China (to whom the United States and many other countries have sent unwanted mixed paper, plastic and glass for recycling for more than 30 years) has implemented new regulations and no longer accept these materials. This change in the way we divert recycled materials has presented new challenges for waste management companies across the country.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that while 75 percent of the American waste stream is recyclable, only 30 percent is ultimately recycled. Improving recycling rates will require a portfolio of solutions including; government incentives to expand and upgrade the recycling infrastructure; more automation and advanced recycling technologies, such as optical recognition to sort different types of materials and ensure higher quality and purity in the waste stream; disincentives, such as taxes on landfill, which economically incent more recycling; local government utility fees or pay-to-throw fees; and regulations that push companies to phase out of hard-to-recycle plastics, to use more recycled content, or use compostable materials. We may even consider the federal government’s involvement in recycling operations, similar to the way Swedish and South Korean governments manage waste, both of which have recycling rates at 50 percent.

While the best approach may be to incentivize people to consume less – which also has the benefit of reducing some of the upstream waste created when products are made – consumer spending fuels 68 percent of our GDP and a strong economy is in everyone’s best interest.

Several of the Personal Care Products Council’s member companies are adopting innovative approaches to managing upstream and downstream waste created from operations and product packaging. Many have set ambitious goals and targets to reduce waste, and joined pre-competitive collaborations aimed at identifying solutions to managing the systemic challenges associated with a make, use, dispose linear product cycle.

Companies including Beiersdorf, Burt’s Bees, Colgate-Palmolive, Coty, Henkel, Firmenich, International Flavors & Fragrances, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble (P&G), The Estée Lauder Companies, and Unilever have committed to zero waste to landfill for their manufacturing sites.

As part of their commitment to reduce reliance on a single use model, companies including Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, P&G, The Estée Lauder Companies, and Unilever intend to reach a point where all plastic packaging will be recyclable, reusable, compostable, or refillable.

Numerous brands are making recycling easier for consumers to bring their empty packaging back to point of sale (POS), or return by mail, usually incentivized with a reward. Voluntary programs like Aveda’s Full Cycle Recycling, Back to MAC, Kiehl’s Recycle and Be Rewarded, Return to Origins, Henkel, and Garnier’s recycling partnership with TerraCycle all help consumers appropriately dispose of empty packaging.

Many companies are also increasing their use of recycled content, including Aveda, which markets hair care products in a bottle made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, and P&G, which introduced a plastic bottle made with recycled ocean plastic.

Aligned with growing interest in the circular economy, industry is also testing innovative approaches to refillable packaging. Unilever and P&G have launched a platform with LOOP, which offers consumer products for home delivery in reusable packaging; empties are then stored in a personal reuse bin and are picked up for cleaning and sterilization; packaging can be reused up to a hundred times. With the goal of finding and adopting many more sustainable packaging solutions, Olay is testing a recyclable refill pod that can be placed inside a skincare jar once empty.

This America Recycles Day, do your part to make sure waste is properly recycled and encourage your friends and families to support companies taking bold actions to address this global problem. #AmericaRecyclesDay.

Recycling Facts

  • The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year.1
  • The EPA estimates that 75% of the American waste stream is recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it.2
  • The Container Recycling Institute (CRI) estimates that the 36 billion aluminum cans landfilled last year had a scrap value of more than $600 million.3
  • Over 87% of Americans have access to curbside or drop-off paper recycling programs.4
  • 80 billion aluminum cans are used each year around the world, they can be recycled endlessly and can go from recycling back to store shelves in 2 months. Recycling one can saves enough energy to run a TV for almost 3 hours.5
  • Each American uses almost 700 pounds of paper each year 500,000 trees are cut down just to produce Sunday newspapers each week. If everyone recycled their newspapers, over 200 million trees could be saved each year.6
  • 5 million plastic bottles are used in America every hour. Recycling one ton of plastic can save almost 2,000 gallons of gasoline.7


1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Municipal Solid Waste.” Web Accessed April 25, 2015.
2 Indiana University. “Waste & Recycling.” Web Accessed April 25, 2015.
3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “10 FAST FACTS ON RECYCLING.” Web Accessed April 25, 2015.
4 Keep America Beautiful. “Recycling Facts & Statistics.” Web Accessed April 25, 2015.
5 America Recycles Day 2019 Web Accessed November 2019.
6 America Recycles Day 2019 Web Accessed November 2019.
7 America Recycles Day 2019 Web Accessed November 2019.


Strong. Beautiful. Healthy. Empowered.

Lezlee Westine
President & CEO, Personal Care Products Council

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, we continue our commitment to raise public consciousness and support the 1 in 8 women in the United States who are affected by this relentless disease. We honor the incredible strength of survivors, and remember those we have lost.

Over the course of several decades, beauty and personal care companies have played a leading role in breast cancer awareness, research, detection, and treatment. Our member companies’ long-standing commitments include, but are not limited to:

The collective efforts of our industry, likeminded sectors, and women and breast cancer focused organizations have led to unparalleled advances in prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. The result? A significant increase in survival rates over the past several decades.

We see a lot of pink in October. Pink ribbons, pink t-shirts, pink-themed events, and pink product promotions, all of which provide an important opportunity to raise awareness and funds for research and support. While pink is engaging and fun, the color is – more importantly – meaningful. Women today are  empowered with information and education about breast cancer, and effectively advocating for their own breast health. The iconic pink ribbon – which was first introduced in 1992 by the late Evelyn Lauder, daughter-in-law of beauty industry icon Estée Lauder, and longtime executive of The Estée Lauder Companies, with her friend Alexandra Penney, former editor-in-chief of SELF Magazine – helped shape the current environment in which awareness, uninhibited communication (once strictly taboo), self-breast exams, and mammograms are commonplace.

For the past 30 years, the entire beauty and personal care industry – manufacturers, suppliers, packagers, professional services, retailers, creative agencies, and beauty media – has proudly supported Look Good Feel Better. This unique public service program helps individuals with cancer improve their self-esteem and confidence by addressing the appearance-related side effects of treatment. The program offers free workshops, virtual classes, and online support that include lessons on skin and nail care; makeup application; wig and turban tutorials; and overall styling advice. Each year, PCPC members donate $2 million in funding, and more than one million products (valued at $10 million) to be used in these hands-on workshops. To date, the program has positively impacted the lives of more than two million women worldwide diagnosed with cancer. In the U.S., more than half of the women served are breast cancer patients.

As an organization that represents an industry fully committed to the health and well-being of women, we will continue to advocate for access to preventative care, screenings that help detect cancer early, affordable life-saving treatment, and research that could lead to the eradication of breast cancer once and for all.


For more information about Look Good Feel Better and our member company social impact programs that support breast cancer, please visit our website.



Proud to be Part of a Movement

Louanne Roark
Executive Director, Look Good Feel Better

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While it has become a familiar part of our lives, it wasn’t always that way. Launched in 1985, the annual campaign set out to promote awareness and support for women with breast cancer while championing access to prevention strategies, including mammography, at a time when people simply didn’t talk about breast cancer. Thirty-four years later, you would be hard-pressed to find an adult woman who had not been exposed to – and thus benefited from – this important effort.

I am proud to say that the cosmetics and personal care industry was a leader in the breast cancer awareness movement almost from the beginning. Thirty years ago, the industry launched a ground-breaking program, Look Good Feel Better. It was the first organized, charitable program to assist female cancer patients – free of charge – with appearance side effects from cancer treatment. From our start in 1989, we quickly learned that in addition to improving appearance and body image, Look Good Feel Better also improved morale, confidence, hope, and provided a vision of the light at the end of the treatment tunnel.

Today, we take for granted that companies engage in Corporate Social Responsibility. But 30 years ago, it was just taking root as a concept. Little did we know at the time that we were at the forefront of this sweeping change in corporate and consumer mindset, and that we were starting something very special. Dare I say, we were starting a movement?

Look Good Feel Better has proven to be a bold demonstration of the good that can happen when industry unites behind a larger purpose. The personal care industry and beauty professionals across the country generously donate millions of dollars’ worth of beauty products and hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours to women undergoing cancer treatment, restoring confidence and boosting self-esteem. It has come to represent our industry at its best and exemplifies what our products can do to support wellbeing.

Since those early days, more than 2 million people in 27 countries around the world have experienced the personal and transformative power of our industry’s products to reignite their self-confidence in the midst of their most challenging moments.

And it works. We know from research that the program helps women face cancer with confidence – 96% say the program improved their self-image and 98% would recommend it to other women with cancer.

We have been building this movement for 30 years but, in some ways, we are just getting started.

Today, we are stretching to reach a bold and ambitious future. Look Good Feel Better now offers free support for cancer patients through live, hospital-based group workshops; new virtual livestreaming programs; through community partnerships such as our collaboration with Walgreens; and by offering robust online education and support. We are delivering the Look Good Feel Better message and expertise when and where the information is needed, thereby reaching and serving more women in need.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time to rededicate our efforts toward prevention, education, patient and survivor support and, ultimately, finding a cure for this cruel disease that strikes 1 in 8 women in their lifetime. In fact, more than half (60%) of the women Look Good Feel Better serves are breast cancer patients and nearly a third of new cancer diagnoses among women in 2019 are expected to be breast cancer diagnoses. We are helping women at a critical time, in a real and tangible way, to find their way through and beyond breast cancer.

I am proud of what we have accomplished in the past 30 years, and honored to have been a part of it. And I am energized knowing that Look Good Feel Better is well-positioned to be a powerful resource for the next 30 years.

So, before October comes to an end, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come – and together, commit ourselves to the future of Look Good Feel Better and the people we serve.

Sound Science Must Guide Public Policy

Jay M. Ansell, PhD, DABT
VP, Cosmetics Program
Personal Care Products Council

As a scientist, I make up my mind based on the evidence. I may believe something is true, but then I have to put that belief to the test. Sometimes the evidence will show I was right. Other times, no matter how compelling or convenient my belief may be, if the evidence does not agree, then I have to change my mind. At the end of the day, the best decision-making is informed by facts, not opinions, beliefs or speculation.

The need for science to guide policy discussions is critical, and in the case of efforts to ban the sale and use of some sunscreens as a way to prevent damage to coral reefs, we have a good example of why science should inform public policy. Policymakers in Hawaii and Florida have recently passed legislation based on the speculation certain sunscreen ingredients harm coral reefs, while ignoring the proven benefits of sunscreens, potentially endangering the health of people visiting their beaches and living in their communities.

We know the greatest risk to coral reefs, and it is not people wearing sunscreen at the beach. The clear scientific consensus is that the chief cause of coral reef decline is increasing ocean temperatures due to climate change, in combination with overfishing and water pollution from wastewater treatment plants, agricultural runoff, industrial discharges and other sources. By supporting misguided bans on the sale and use of these sunscreens, policymakers are diverting people from finding real solutions while jeopardizing public health.

Medical, scientific and public health experts all agree using sunscreen is a critical part of an overall sun safety regimen. Unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a known cause of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, more than five million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year—more than all other cancers combined. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, every hour, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

So, if we care about protecting public health and the coral reefs, there are steps we can take right now to make a difference.
Here’s what the personal care products industry is doing to address climate change, the chief cause of coral reef decline:

  • Reducing Energy Use and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions – More than two thirds of Personal Care Products Council member companies are actively managing energy use and carbon emission from their operations. Many companies support the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) and have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.
  • Water Conservation and Management – Many companies have set ambitious public targets to reduce water consumption, increase water reuse and improve overall water efficiency in operations.
  • Zero Waste – Several companies are leading the way when it comes to achieving the goal of creating zero waste in their production and supply chain – from product design, manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain decisions to waste management and recycling considerations.

Every consumer can play a role to play too — small scale changes can make a big difference. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, here’s what you can do every day:

  • Take care of your trash. If you take it to the beach, be sure to take it home – especially plastic. And don’t forget the three R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle).
  • Minimize use of fertilizers. Nutrients in fertilizers (nitrogen and phosphorus) can runoff and get into waterways and eventually end up in oceans, where they degrade water quality.
  • Reduce stormwater runoff. Homeowners can install water catchments or rain gardens and use rain barrels to collect rainwater that would otherwise be diverted to storm drains, which eventually flow from our waterways into the ocean.
  • Use environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. Using cleaner transportation methods can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to ocean acidification and increased ocean temperature.

We all share the goal of protecting the Earth’s treasures, including the coral reefs, while addressing climate change and water quality issues. Let’s focus on solutions that target the real problems and not let ourselves be distracted by proposals that do nothing to help—and in fact could cause real harm.

Don’t Get Burned by Misleading Sunscreen Claims

Lisa Powers
EVP, Public Affairs & Communications
Personal Care Products Council

As a communicator, being informed is a top priority – in all aspects of my life. When considering a new product to purchase, for instance, I look to science and research to provide objective information and help me make a data-driven choice… and I’m not alone. According to a recent poll by NORC, public confidence in the scientific community has remained largely stable since the 1970s, which is why I find it so confusing that the credibility and reliability of science is suddenly up for debate.

I am not a scientist, but I’ve worked with many over the years and am consistently impressed by the rigor of their approach and work. Rather than relying on gut instinct or emotions like many of us do, scientists carefully examine and consider established data to guide their work and recommendations. They go where the facts lead them, even if the facts disrupt their journey. (The scientific method provides an organized way in to answer a question, test a hypothesis, or solve a problem.)

We could all use a little more objectivity – a little less assumption – in our lives. What is most concerning recently is the willful disregard for (and, in some cases, blatant misrepresentation of) science when it comes to the safety and benefits of sunscreens.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than five million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer this year—more than all other types of cancer combined. One in five will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and one person dies from melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – every hour, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Medical and scientific experts around the world agree sunscreen is a critical part of an overall sun safety regimen, but you wouldn’t know it by consuming today’s news.

You may, instead, be led to believe that sunscreen is harmful to your health or to the environment, or worse yet, that using it should be a last resort. These reports irresponsibly misrepresent the well-established scientific evidence regarding the safety and effectiveness of sunscreen. What’s even more alarming? Some of these statements misrepresent the position of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates sunscreens and has the authority to remove them from the market, were they to have any safety concerns.

When false and misleading statements are picked up by the media, it risks confusing – even potentially harming – consumers. Put another way, while unsubstantiated claims might make for catchy headlines, they can undermine confidence in the products that protect us.

Fact: Sunscreens on the market today are backed by decades of safe use to help adults and children guard against the dangers of sun exposure. The FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Surgeon General, AAD, Skin Cancer Foundation, and health professionals worldwide consistently advocate for the use of broad-spectrum sunscreens as part of a safe-sun regimen. These products play a critical role in the fight against skin cancer and premature skin aging.

With summer in full swing, as my loved ones and I begin to spend more time outdoors, we won’t be ignoring decades of science and research in favor of sensationalized news stories. I will grab my hat, long sleeve shirt, and favorite bottle of sunscreen… confident I am following the best scientific and medical advice available to protect us from the harmful effects of the sun.