Tell These Pinkwashers: “Poison Isn’t Pretty”

Filed under blog

Karuna Jaggar 2015 croppedBy Karuna Jaggar, Executive Director

For over a decade, Breast Cancer Action has been taking on pinkwashers: corporations and organizations that peddle products linked to breast cancer while claiming to care about women with the disease. We always think it can’t get worse—until it does.

Recently, some of our members living with breast cancer asked us to look into the cosmetics used in a program for cancer patients called Look Good, Feel Better®.

Look Good, Feel Better bagLook Good, Feel Better is run by the Personal Care Products Council, the largest national trade group for the cosmetics industry, and the American Cancer Society, the nation’s largest cancer charity. They hold free workshops that give beauty tips and complimentary makeup kits to women in cancer treatment—support that some women understandably value while facing a cancer diagnosis.

The downside? Many of the products offered to women in Look Good, Feel Better kits contain chemicals linked to increased cancer risk, including parabens, Teflon, and formaldehyde releasers.

As if that’s not bad enough, some of the chemicals in Look Good, Feel Better products may actually interfere with breast cancer treatment. For example, methylparaben has been found to both increase breast cancer risk by mimicking the hormone estrogen and interfere with the common cancer drug Tamoxifen.

Poison Isnt Pretty square for webThis outrageous pinkwashing has to stop now!


The Personal Care Products Council and the American Cancer Society both claim to care about women living with breast cancer, but they’re giving toxic products to women in cancer treatment.

They’re not just putting cancer patients at risk, but also the program’s volunteer cosmetologists; a recent report showed cosmetologists’ risk of breast cancer is five times higher than the general population. And the health risks extend beyond women participating in the workshops. The same toxic cosmetics used in the Look Good, Feel Better kits are also commonly found on store shelves near us all.

Women deserve better than this hypocritical pinkwashing.

We’re telling the Personal Care Products Council and the American Cancer Society that “Poison Isn’t Pretty.” We demand these multi-million dollar industry giants stop pinkwashing and start protecting women’s health.

Join us. Demand the Personal Care Products Council and the American Cancer Society block corporations from participating in Look Good, Feel Better if their products contain chemicals linked to increasing cancer risk or interfering with breast cancer treatment.

Now that would really make us feel better.


  1. Laura Cole
    Posted October 10, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    What chemicals in cosmetics are you referring to that contribute to cancer spreading or treatment?

  2. Pallavi Neerunjun
    Posted October 11, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Your blog post contains strong arguments against Pink Ribbon. There are lots of people who think that the pink ribbon is the first symbol of breast cancer but the origins of the pink ribbon come from an activist Charlotte Haley whose mother and sister battled breast cancer. “Haley pinned the ribbons onto cards she sent to the National Cancer Institute, urging them to increase their budget allocation for cancer prevention” (Lieber 2014). Well it’s then that the notion of Pink ribbon actually initiated in 1991 during the ‘Race for Cure’ event in New York City by the Breast Cancer Advocacy group, Susan G. Komen. I assume that the basic purpose of distributing the pink ribbons were merely to encourage people in participating and as well as creating awareness. But the pink ribbon concept has dramatically become the ‘big idea’ for many brands including the Breast Cancer Advocacy Group.

    What about KFC pink-bucket of fried chicken? Isn’t that unhealthy for women mostly? How do KFC justifies the relation between KFC fried chicken and breast cancer awareness?

    The increasing number of pink products chicken is fascinating and I personally feel that these products are misleading. Most brands are just printing the pink ribbons on their product for brand promotion, increasing sales of their products despite the potential health risks. Raising money by collaborating with brands that are contributing to Breast Cancer is to me PINKWASHING.

    Pink Ribbon was a powerful symbol to raise global awareness and during Breast Cancer awareness Month in October, people wore the pink ribbons to honor survivors, victims who lost their life to breast cancer and all together increase the support in fighting against breast cancer. It was meaningful regardless the origins but now it’s like the Breast Cancer awareness month is the month of celebration and holidays for most people.

  3. caitlin
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Hi Laura, you can find specifics about the chemicals in cosmetics here:

  4. Irish
    Posted October 12, 2015 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    now let’s look at major cancer centers and their supply of fast food, big soda. Etc. Never thought I’d see fast food restaurant at MD Anderson!

  5. Julie
    Posted October 14, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    While I would never wish breast cancer, or any cancer on anyone, my hope is that before putting an article out like this, that has links to other opinion pieces with no links to actual studies, that you have gone through breast cancer, and the aggressive treatment for it. And that you have actually attended a Look Good, Feel Better class and are not just attacking the brands in there because you don’t like them to begin with. While I am very anti-pink ribbon, for many reasons, attacking Look Good, Feel Better because it potentially contains make up that you don’t approve of anyone using, or companies you just don’t like because they pinkwash, you state things that are either deliberately deceptive or just plain uninformed. Not all breast cancers are hormone receptor positive. Nor do all breast cancer patients take tamoxifen after treatment. Many of the Look Good, Feel Better coordinators, are breast cancer survivors themselves. And once you’ve had breast cancer, your chance of getting it again are higher than the general population. Many go into facilitating the class after they had been to one themselves. Just claiming that those cosmetologists are at a higher risk, with out stating that many already had cancer, increasing their risk, is very deceptive. Look Good, Feel Better isn’t just about getting a make up bag. It is about learning how to tie scarves, care for wigs, and help with other things that tend to happen when aggressive treatment of cancer is something someone is going through. Look Good, Feel Better, is not just for breast cancer patients. It is for any cancer patient. To say that this is just another pinkwash is ridiculous. I will say, I am sure that some of the companies that donate to the program, are getting possible tax write off’s for said donations.

  6. Terri
    Posted October 22, 2015 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Can you recommend makeup to replace what ACS is providing to these women? I agree with the statement, but LGFB is a good program that helps women feel good during a hard time. Let’s keep the program and rework the cosmetics they hand out.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *