Consumption is central to many global economies and has contributed to the phenomena of globalization. This consumption of the world has changed the way we consume some products and the reasons for engaging in such activities. The increase in consumption and release of leftovers has consequently posed environmental challenges ranging from degradation, global warming, and deadly diseases. Improvement of communication and information technology has contributed to advanced forms of advertisement that promote the consumption and exploitation of markets down to the most localized places within the global village. Consumption is currently viewed as a kind of competition where it is analyzed and consumers are rated by how much they consume. One of such products that the world consume largely are cosmetics that are associated with civilization as they touch on human appearance and odor
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It was last week when I realized that my perfume was exhausted and while I was going through Mexico city I decided to buy another perfume but this time I needed to change the brand I was used to. I was having in mind a brand that has recently hit the media advertisements. I bought it and it has been gorgeous for me. Most of my friends have liked it and this confirms that my $15 for the new brand is paying off. Although there were many cosmetic products on the shelves, most of them cheaper, I went for this product because of the emphasis of its ‘glory’ on the consumer. My concern has however been raised by my mother who claims that she is allergic to the fragrance and prefers a neutral brand. These controversies are not new in cosmetic consumerism and this inspired me to search deep into the analysis of cosmetic consumer products.
Cosmetics are for example perfumes like the one I bought, skin care creams, lotions, powders, lipsticks among others used to improve one’s appearance. There has been a proliferation of low and medium-priced category products that takes almost 90% of the cosmetic market in volume (Sanju et al. 4).
Moreover, there is increased demand for cosmetics in the urban population due to their better buying power, the changing culture, concern for looking better, availability of a wide range of products, and developed advertising technology. The consumption of cosmetics has increased and this has led to increased production, importation, and distribution. There has been substantial growth in the cosmetic industry with the united stated leading in production and market followed by Japan, Germany, Italy, and France (Sanju et al. 9).
The enormous cosmetic consumption in the world is worth raising some safety, health, environmental, and economic concerns over the products in the global product consumer.
Many people spend less time pondering about the material they often rub in to their skin pores, smear on their faces, brush onto their eyebrows and so no. The naked reality is that these products are chemicals that, like many others, can cause great harm under some circumstances.
The ingredients that are used to make cosmetics are deemed to pass quality tests and official regulations to ensure that synthetic ingredients are not included. Even though these regulations exist most cosmetic products containing harmful materials infiltrate into the market. The companies that make these products continue to mislead the consumer by claiming that their products are made up of natural ingredients that are green and organic. Many activist groups have stepped up a campaign for safe cosmetics free from toxic materials especially those derived from petroleum products, sodium Laurel and Parabens.
Some cosmetics contain chemicals with strong effects on human health for example Phthalates, Acrylamide, Formaldehyde, and ethylene oxide that are present in most of the cosmetics. The immune systems recognize these substances as harmful, dangerous, and foreign and create allergies for them. There are face creams that cause vomiting and lack of sleep (Reed 3). As far as beauty means good health some cosmetics aimed at this are just harmful to the beauty and health of consumers and only benefit the manufacturer who gains by having huge returns at the end of the day. The fact is that there are innocent consumers who have health problems but are not aware of the cause of their health problems.
Cosmetics have negative health effects ranging from skin irritations, dermatitis like the ones caused by Parabens and allergies (Lewis 1). Synthetic fragrances used in cosmetics cause allergies and this goes into costing consumers heavily in terms of health and money. Cosmetics are meant to enhance one’s appearance are very influential consumer products. Companies use young models to advertise these products and are also packaged in a way that is very appealing to the consumer so that avoiding them is difficult. These advertisements which use young models also raise social concerns that regard younger and younger beautification. This alters the young generation’s lifestyle so that life is associated with look at the expense of one’s health.
Another social controversy is raised by the concern for another person’s health. There are people like Hindu who burn incense sticks in their Pooja and temples and although no much serious health issue is linked to these sticks, there are people who are allergic to such fragrances. Using these fragrances means that one is violating some social concern for those who are affected by the substances. Cosmetics of this type also are known to affect small children and sick people.
Whatever cosmetics are smeared in the skin is assumed to be absorbed into the body but discarded cosmetics must get into the environment. Cosmetic remains and packaging materials and thrown into the drain and landfills in millions every day. These products are mostly packaged in plastic, glass, polythene, and metallic containers that pollute the environment. The companies that make the cosmetic have no concern for the environment and do not utilize environmentally friendly biodegradable materials. Another concern is that the companies use animals in their trails in a way that violates animal rights. Some brands of nail polish for example was recently found to contain Dibutyphthalate, a chemical that is known to cause animal cancer. Using them on animals therefore exposes them to the danger of contracting cancer. There other cosmetics that contain toxin likes mercury, lead acetate, toluene, coal tar, and petroleum distillates that are highly harmful to the environment. Cosmetics are consumed on a large scale and their chemical composition, therefore, poses a great threat to environmental elements like soil, plants, and animals.
The production of cosmetics can neither be safe for those involved in the process either. There have been many companies that are small scale that may not be highly regulated. The coming up of the product involves the mixing of chemicals whose scent can be harmful to the person involved. Cosmetic companies if not well supervised to comply with health standards can violate human rights by exposing their employees to unhealthy conditions.
The economic gain for cosmetics therefore goes towards the producers and the satisfaction going to the consumer may be costly in terms of health issues (Reed 4). The perfume I bought in Mexico for instance, as far as it may be appealing to me and my friends may come with its negative effects, at last, should it contain poisonous substances. As much as there are cosmetics in the market that do not meet consumer safety, there can be a possibility of corruption within the industry quality regulators. There are laws concerning education for personnel, labeling, laboratory controls, and production. Most cosmetics companies violate these laws and the results are seen in the health issues that are associated with their products (Pallingston 12). That is why there is a proliferation of adulterated and misbranded cosmetic products in the global market.
In conclusion, cosmetics have taken the young generation captive as well as the aging generation that increasingly use the products to maintain young looks. The choice of cosmetics however is mostly influenced by the advertisements, misleading information, and romanticized effects by the producers. Worse still is that these products go with fashion and are very expensive for the consumer in terms of side effects. Just like any other consumer product the real issue in cosmetics is not consumption and the satisfaction derived but their pattern and effects on humanity. This calls for careful selection when one is buying and using a cosmetic product.
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Lewis, Carol. “Clearing up Cosmetic Confusion.” FDA Consumer Magazine 14 May 1998:1. Print.
Pallingston, Jessica. Lipstick: A Celebration of the World’s Favorite Cosmetic. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998. Print.
Reed, Sandra “Cosmetics and Your Health.” US Department of Health and Human Services 2004:1-4. Print.
Sanju, Nanda, et al. Cosmetic Technology. 1st ed. Delhi: Birla Publishers Pvt. Ltd, 2005. Print.