Like talc, the I don’t care what day it is it’s early I’m grumpy I want Pepsi shirt in other words I will buy this potential dangers of parabens and phthalates are hotly debated, one reason being these molecules are tiny and are theoretically filtered out of the body via the liver. But as Ellis says, “It’s not one product, it’s the accumulation of a number of products, and the reapplication of those products.” That’s the number of soaps, serums, concealers, and more that Mymy Nguyen, a 24-year-old medical student at Boston University and one of the documentary’s star subjects, reaches for each morning. “I’m always chasing this kind of look, this kind of aesthetic,” Nguyen tells Vogue. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to want to look a certain way. It’s part of who I am and how I dress.” Still, when Nguyen connected with Ellis, she was curious to see how her beauty routine (Clairol shampoo, Fenty Beauty foundation) affected her chemical body burden, especially after a recent brush with a benign breast tumor. Toxic Beauty follows Nguyen as she submits to three blood tests over three days: one after her usual 27-step regimen, one after a zero-product detox day, and one after switching over to clean beauty products. The results, revealed in the film’s final moments, are staggering: On a typical day, Nguyen’s phthalate levels were five times higher and her paraben levels were 35 times higher than when she switched to nontoxic cosmetics. I think there’s definitely a connection between phthalates and parabens and [health issues], but I don’t think these things are meant to cause any harm,” the medical student says. “With a lot of the girls I talk to, we love helping each other find new products and lifting each other up. Beauty is a very empowering kind of thing.” To Ellis, this speaks to the manipulative power of marketing, which can be just as toxic as the products it promotes. “We have to change these beauty norms so women don’t have to choose between their health and trying to look beautiful,” she states. “I really believe this is a women’s health issue.” And even more so for women of color. Products aimed at minority women—skin-lightening creams, hair-straightening treatments—“have higher levels of carcinogens and toxicants,” Ellis says. Research from the Environmental Working Group shows that one in 12 beauty products marketed to black women contains toxic substances, with less than 25% of products in the space considered low in potentially hazardous ingredients.
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A new study links the I don’t care what day it is it’s early I’m grumpy I want Pepsi shirt in other words I will buy this use of permanent hair dye and chemical straighteners with a 60% increase in breast cancer risk for black women, as opposed to an 8% increase for white women. “The research is coming, it’s just coming slowly,” Nguyen says. “But I believe it. It doesn’t make sense to me that these chemicals are regulated in other countries and not in the U.S.” Talc, parabens, and, to an extent, phthalates are all restricted in Europe, where more than 1,300 cosmetic chemicals are banned, compared to the United States’ 11. The evidence against these substances may not be definitive, but it’s there, and it’s growing. “I think that if we question an ingredient, don’t use it,” Ellis says. “If there’s a chance it could cause cancer, don’t use it. Don’t put it in your products. Use something else. Or require a warning label.” But would a warning label make consumers pause before purchasing? Would it do anything to dismantle the deeply ingrained, unattainable beauty standards the industry is built on? “It’s really hard to pull that back,” Ellis admits. “When I was trying to detox my routine, I decided I was going to let my hair go gray and be proud of my age and do it for my daughter. And then I was going to London because Toxic Beauty was screening over there, and three days before I left, I thought, Oh my God, I can’t go to London looking like this! So I put $300 worth of chemicals on my head, and off I went.” On Friday, royal watchers got an unexpected treat: Princess Beatrice, the daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, was married in a small private ceremony on the grounds of Windsor Castle. Beatrice and the groom, property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, were supposed to be married in a more elaborate ceremony on May 29 before COVID-19 prevented any such gatherings. The wedding—originally to take place at the Chapel Royal in London, with a reception in the Buckingham Palace gardens—was postponed indefinitely. So it was a bit of a surprise when Buckingham Palace announced on Friday that the couple was now husband and wife. Where exactly was the couple married? Beatrice and Mapelli Mozzi were married on the Royal Chapel of All Saints at Royal Lodge, part of the Windsor Castle compound, following what Buckingham Palace said was social distancing protocol. According to a statement issued by the palace, “No hymns were sung, but a selection of music was played.