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EWG and Mainstream Beauty Are Starting to Work Together

EWG president Ken Cook's presence at PCPC underscores the importance of clean beauty.

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Ken Cook, president and cofounder of the Environmental Work Group, was perhaps the most in-demand speaker at this year’s PCPC event.

Beauty executives poured into a small room to hear what Cook had to say, which was in effect, that EWG and the beauty industry should be working together, not against one another. He also called for feedback from the beauty industry about EWG’s practices, including the Skin Deep database, adding, “I probably should have asked before.” Be that as it may, the database is a hit with consumers: The Skin Deep mobile app has been downloaded more than 1.3 million times, while the online data base garners 1,000-plus views per hour.

Cook walked the crowd though EWG’s history, and the organization’s goal to provide information to consumers in a more timely manner than the government. Pregnant women often attend his talks, he said, and at a certain point he felt like he couldn’t tell them to ask Washington to pass regulations. “By the time that happened, that baby would be in graduate school,” he said.

EWG, which has an annual budget of $12 million, has starting working more closely with beauty companies, and has its own seal of product approval that is starting to hit the mainstream — Revlon just developed a primer in conjunction with the group. The organization is also working with PCPC on legislation, president Lezlee Westine said.

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“We have been working together already on state legislation in California…and also on federal legislation,” Westine said.