EWG President Ken Cook on collaboration with the personal care industry

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ewg Personal care products council Ingredients safety

The main topic of programming at last month’s PCPC Annual Meeting event was sustainability. As part of that discussion, the EWG was invited to speak about how NGOs and beauty industry insiders can best work together.

Cosmetics Design caught up with EWG President Ken Cook at the 2020 PCPC Annual Meeting to learn more about the group’s approach to consumer safety, business, and industry collaboration.

Cook describes the organization he founded in 1993 as “a non-profit environmental research and advocacy organization. And we’ve spent decades,” ​he says, “working on public policy on clean air, clean water, topics like pesticides…”

Some 15 years ago, Cook tells Cosmetics Design, the organization was made aware of the possibility that phthalates used in personal care product formulations were showing up in human blood.  Ever since, the EWG has focused a portion of their business on personal care research, education, and lobbying.

A conversation in process

In 2004, the EWG launched Skin Deep to share personal care product and ingredient information with consumers. “Some people love it. Some people hate it,” ​acknowledges Cook.

He goes on to note that every hour 1,000 people visit the site. And while the EWG Verified ratings system remains a point of contention to some degree in the personal care industry, Cooks believes that “the disagreement is the interpretation of the science.”

But he’s optimistic that the beauty industry and the EWG are on track toward real collaboration. The company behind every EWG verified product has shared formulation and ingredient information directly with the organization and the channels of communication are opening.

“We’re working with a lot of [personal care] companies,” says Cook. “We’re working with [the] PCPC on these very topics—not that we always agree. But, we’ve had great conversations, where now I think we know where we disagree and that’s the first step.”

Watch the full Cosmetics Design video interview with EWG President Ken Cook, at the top of the page, to learn more. 



Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry​ as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.

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