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Examining ugly side of beauty industry

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Beauty comes at a price. And it’s ugly.

When author Stacy Malkan, co-founder of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, talks about the “high-cost” of cosmetics during her guest appearance at the end of the month, she isn’t referring to how much consumers are shelling out at the cash register.

Selected as the guest speaker for the 2014 Sister Maura Smith Earth Day Lecture Series on Tuesday, April 22, Malkan will discuss her book, Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, while also identifying the dangerous chemicals that pose a threat to both human health and the environment. 

Malkan’s presentation is at 7 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall, which is in the Audrey Hirt Academic Center on the Erie campus. It’s free and open to the public.

This year, the Earth Day lecture was inspired by the Fresh Face Forward campaign — a social change initiative designed to raise awareness on campus about toxic chemicals that can be found in many cosmetics and personal care products. Fresh Face Forward is joined by the Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics & Society, the Charlene M. Tanner Speaker Series, Organizational Leadership graduate program and Student Sustainability Fund as sponsors of the lecture.

As a published researcher who uses scientific evidence to back up the claims made in her book, Malkan was a standout choice among anti-cosmetic advocates to bring to campus, said Mercyhurst sustainability officer Brittany Prischak.

“While we left Stacy’s presentation up to her, we are hoping that she speaks to the public health issues of personal care and beauty products,” said Prischak. “And, while she may not speak specifically to the environmental issues, we’re hoping that her lecture will help spread awareness and impact consumer behavior, at least at the local level.”

Earth Day lectures from three previous years have focused specifically on environmental public policy, so decision makers decided it was time to bring in a speaker who hit a little closer to home by focusing on a public health issue that speaks to most anyone.

“We aren’t just trying to push the Fresh Face Forward campaign on campus; it’s also an issue that we feel impacts the Erie community, both men and women,” said Prischak. “Although the campaign is geared toward women because they are more affected through their use of multiple personal care products, this issue affects everyone; it’s not just about what we put on our bodies, but also how those chemicals get into our drinking water.”

For more information about the Earth Day lecture, contact Brittany Prischak at or call 824-3829. More information about Stacy Malkan can be found at Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.