TOXIC BEAUTY

Toxic Beauty is a documentary feature film with exclusive access to scientists, lawyers, advocates, regulators, politicians, a dynamic whistle blower, survivors and women who have lost their lives. It follows the class action lawsuit against J&J and the plaintiffs, personal stories of women fighting for justice in a race against time with this deadly disease. Woven throughout the film is a human experiment. We document, as Boston University medical student, Mymy Nguyen, measures her chemical body burden from over 27 products. Scientists monitor her shocking results. In the end, the film meets the companies and people who offer solutions and optimism for safer, toxicant free cosmetics.

Toxic Beauty addresses what it calls an attitude of silence around carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting substances found in previously approved and popular cosmetic items in the US cosmetics market. The documentary follows UC Davis graduate Mymy Nguyen after she has recovered from a benign cancer attributable to inappropriate use of talcum powder. Nguyen attempts to identify and replace various cosmetic items she has come to depend on while seeking further awareness and knowledge on reparation, or lack thereof, from the cosmetics industry. The film interviews doctors, lawyers, and scientists to explore how products are made, and compares a long struggle with the cosmetics industry to decades of public pressure for reforms against the tobacco industry in the 1960s. It claims that thousands of dangerous chemicals in popular cosmetic products in the USA are unregulated, not even requiring appropriate warning labels when toxic substances have been identified. The relevant legislation is based on 1930s law and favors a “postmarket regulatory system”, even though the act is updated and enforced to cover similar issues in food and drugs. With the assistance of environmentalist author Rick Smith, Nguyen explores the effects of certain substances on the body as well as the effectiveness of recovery. One of the victims featured in the documentary turned down a $1.3m settlement offer from Johnson & Johnson so that she could publicise her experience with a court case. One of the main issues in the documentary surrounds the popular Johnson & Johnson baby powder product. Johnson & Johnson denied knowledge of carcinogens in its baby powder, but were revealed to have known about them since the 1960s after being sued by 22 claimants in 2018, incurring $4.7 billion in damages. Subsequently, a further claimants pursued damage claims against the company.