Everyone deserves to live in a healthy and safe environment. That environment includes where you live, work, play, and pray. We reject and actively push back against racist rhetoric, actions, policies and institutional oppression that leads to state-sanctioned brutality, gun violence, and harm that again and again assaults communities, particularly communities of color. We are committed to working for justice and equity, and are in solidarity with social, racial, and environmental justice organizations to build community, understanding and honest dialogue to address the root causes of violence, harm and hate.

Poisoned to Passionate: Why I Give to WVE

Jennifer Arce testifying

Poisoned to Passionate: Why I Give to WVE

Jennifer Arce 3

 Jennifer Arce

WVE Actionista

This is a story about a girl.

A pretty amazing girl actually… who hit rock bottom, put her big girl panties on, and found an ally to bring her to the top of a national movement.

This is my story, actually. And after reading, I hope you’ll be compelled to join me in supporting Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE).

Now, I bet you’re better versed than the average Sally or Joe on the hazards of toxic chemicals! Maybe you learned about the issue when a loved one got cancer. Maybe your radar went up once you had kids. Or perhaps you caught a passing headline that made you stop and think about the products you put on your body or use in your home.

Or maybe, like me, you got to know WVE a little more personally.

Imagine one day you wake up to realize that your business and life as you know it are slipping away. You have a penetrating headache, a sore throat, a bloody nose and a blistery rash. Occasionally, you cough up blood. Sounds pretty horrible, right?

Pretty toxic, is more like it. Turns out, I have formaldehyde poisoning from the place I used to love most: the salon where I worked. And I didn’t even see it coming. The culprit was a popular salon product—Brazilian Blowout—containing formaldehyde despite its label as “formaldehyde-free.”

What’s tragically worse: formaldehyde poisoning is a forever poisoning: once you have it, you’ll always react to it. And with our salon owner refusing to stop offering the treatment, I had to choose: my health… or my career?

How is this happening?! I wondered desperately. I had to find out. So I dusted myself off, put my big girl panties on (I wasn’t joking!) and prepared for what turned out to be the fight of my life!

That’s when I met the women at Women’s Voices for the Earth. WVE was on a mission to promote ingredient disclosure and removal of toxic ingredients from products—like those in my salon. I’d found my people! And I learned what the issue really was: our nation’s laws are not protecting our health… mine, or my clients.

I had discovered the truth. But even better, I was about to discover my own voice and power.

It started with encouragement from WVE to talk to my colleagues: hearing stories that were eerily similar to mine, and equally unjust. I asked anyone who had been affected by this product and would bravely tell the tale to write it down in a letter. Then in 2012, as part of WVE’s Salon Week of Action, I went to D.C., where I shared my story with dozens of senators and federal agencies, and hand delivered all the letters I’d collected directly to the FDA.

The more my passion grew, the faster events snowballed around me. Not long after, I was featured on The Today Show and The Wall Street Journal. Even the California Attorney General’s Office asked if I could supply information in their case against Brazilian Blowout!
Jenifer DC
Finally, two weeks ago, I returned to D.C. to deliver WVE’s newest report on the effects of toxic chemicals on salon worker health to 50 lawmakers, and demand that they finally pass the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act.

I’ve discovered that it doesn’t matter if I’m a professional activist… I have value and a voice that are strong enough and brave enough to make a difference. Today, I curate my own blog, Pretty Toxic (prettytoxic.org), with another stylist about toxic chemicals in salon products. And just last month, I became the co-owner of my very own salon—without products that harm my health, or my clients

Throughout my journey, Women’s Voices for the Earth was my rock when I needed help the most. These women gave my voice a platform, handed me a microphone and turned–up–the–volume!

And I know my story is just one of many. Because of women like you across the country who are raising their voices, we are bringing about making major shifts in our nation’s biggest companies.

  • We have shifted the entire cleaning industry toward ingredient transparency.
  • We convinced SC Johnson to be the first major company to list fragrance ingredients.
  • We had Procter & Gamble shaking in their boots at their headquarters when we found out they were hiding toxic chemicals in their Always brand pads.
  • And we convinced members of Congress to introduce the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act and the Safe Chemicals Act.

We are creating a healthier future, together with WVE. I know she’s my trusted resource when I need information; my partner in crime when I’m speaking out; my ally when I’m making changes in my home or community; and a friend who is always ready to celebrate a victory.

Today, let's celebrate together!

Please join me in donating to a sustainable, healthy future free from toxic chemicals.

3 Responses

  1. Eneshal

    Awesome! Im glad you are sharing your story and to all the women who traveled to DC We Ready! So many stylist and clients can relate to your story and we now have a platform to tell our story. Thank you

  2. Siobhain Dobrovolny

    What an inspiration! Congrats on your chemical free safe salon. Now THERE’S a value to your customers!

    You go girl!!!

    Siobhain Dobrovolny

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