An Open Letter to My Daughter: Don't Trust the Make-Up and Cosmetic Companies that Would Poison Babies

An Open Letter to My Daughter, Tess (by Don Lieber)

Hi Daughter,

Please indulge me just once – you are 14 and I realize that you’d rather be getting your teeth pulled at the dentist rather than listen to another rant of mine. Yet I ask you, check this out and keep in mind your own baby brother.

Three weeks ago, Johnson & Johnson revealed that they were manufacturing two different types of the popular “No More Tears” baby shampoo.

One version was for sale in Europe, while another version was for use in the United States.

Why the difference?

In the United States, “No More Tears” is made with formaldehyde agents — known to be a carcinogenic (meaning that it causes cancer). In Europe, this is not allowed, so “No More Tears” is made – without any complaints – more safely.

How could they put a cancer-causing ingredient in a product MEANT FOR BABIES?

And, if Europe has laws against this obvious danger to babies, why doesn’t the United States have similar laws?

Do you think we care less about… protecting babies from poison?

crying baby photo

As unbelievable as it may seem, in fact, the cosmetics and personal care products industry pays a lot of money to ensure there are no such laws. These companies seem to not care about giving babies cancer.

Last year, these companies paid over one million dollars to argue our Congress against making such laws (called “lobbying”).

Why do these companies argue against laws that would ban the use of poisonous products… on babies?

Because they use those chemicals to increase their profit, that’s why.

It turns out that chemicals like formaldehyde, or parabens (which I’ve chewed your ear about for a long time now) allow products such as baby shampoo, or lipstick, or eye shadow, to sit on the store shelf a long time, smell nice, or give them that glossy, sexy look so girls like you and your friends can look just like Beyonce. Anything to make them attractive to buy — so they make a big profit.

How big a profit do they make?

L’Oreal made $3 billion dollars in net income last year.

Johnson & Johnson earned $2 billion from its baby care products alone, including “No More Tears.”

And ProActive? Its multi-million-dollar, teen-icon-celebrity-endorsement marketing scheme on TV works wonders — it earned over $800,000 last year. Not bad for a product that contains parabens, a chemical with known links to breast cancer.

It’s a lot of money to be made, and they don’t care if some pesky cancer-causing ingredients stand in the way. That’s why the “Personal Care and Products Council” (the cosmetic industry’s lobbying organization) spent a whopping $1,110,000 last year lobbying the US Congress against laws that would have helped eliminate known poisons from products like baby shampoo.

Here’s a list of exactly what they spent.

Here are the full disclosure statements, including the specific laws they argued against, the names of the lobbying firms, and how much they got paid to make sure that cancer-causing ingredients STAY IN products meant for you, your friends, and your baby brother.

In just one example of many, they paid one lobbyist $20,000 to argue against the “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2009”. (This is NOT a typo. They argue AGAINST banning poisonous additives, literally).

But, there is good news today:

Because of the activism of the “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,” Johnson & Johnson, with its greedy little tail hanging low, is now agreeing to ‘phase’ out carcinogens from its baby products. The campaign spent over two years working hard to research and expose to the public the truth behind “No More Tears.” Now, the company — shamed by the bad publicity — has agreed to phase out formaldehyde.

Remember this as you and your buddies get sucked into the next sexy ad you see on a bus stop for shampoo, eye-liner, or lip gloss.

Meanwhile, we old farts will continue to fight against these greedy, “I don’t care about giving babies cancer” thugs who really just laugh at y’all all the way to the bank.

They think you are their suckers….

Remember your baby brother next time you shop for products.


Safe Cosmetics also provides lists of safe products.

And check out this site for more general information about how to find healthier ingredients.

Lots of love,



Can we just reflect on the name they chose for this shampoo? No More Tears? Cute marketing — never mind the formaldehyde.

Crying baby photo via shutterstock

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