In 2008, filmmaker and activist Annie Leonard launched The Story of Stuff – an ambitious animated web film aimed at raising awareness about the various systems of consumption and creating an enlightened public discourse around ecological sustainability through a new kind of storytelling. Since then, the project has sprouted a number of animated films, focusing on various sub-components of the ecological equation ranging from bottled water to economics.

This month, Leonard is back with a compelling new film, The Story of Cosmetics, exploring the ugly truths of the beauty industry and its toxic ingredients.

The film peels away at the most basic principle of our materials economy – "toxins in, toxins out" – and exposes the unsettling reality of our daily habits, with all of the known neurotoxins, carcinogens and reproductive toxins they treat us to. (The average US woman uses 12 beauty products per day, the average man 6.)

You can support the effort by making a donation to help extend its uncomfortable but important message even further than the 10 million people it has already reached and join the Safe Cosmetics Act to attack a broken system at the root: government regulation.

Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, GOOD Magazine and Huffington Post, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter.