5 Ways Cosmetics Can Kill You

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Do you know what’s in your cosmetics? Neither did I – until I realized that when it comes to what gets absorbed by our skin, ignorance is not bliss. And don’t think the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) got your back; the U.S. government has very little control over what goes into personal care products. With more than 10,500 ingredients, many of which have never been evaluated for safety, it turns out that the face of cosmetics is far less than perfect. In fact, based on findings from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, we discovered a bunch of ways cosmetics can even kill you.

1 – Faulty Fragrance: “This fragrance may cause swelling, fevers, infertility, obesity…”


There’s nothing wrong with wanting to smell good. But the same scent that makes you feel so sexy can also trigger unattractive allergic reactions, including asthma, headaches, chest tightening, wheezing, swelling, and rashes. And that’s just in the short term. Many of the chemicals found in fragrances are also associated with infertility, obesity, thyroid malfunction, and cancer.

Buyer beware: Halle by Halle Berry, Quicksilver, and Glow by JLO each contain seven different hormone-disrupting chemicals.

2 – Bubble Bath Blues – “Rubber ducky, you’re so toxic…”


You want to pamper yourself at the end of a long day, and you decide a bubble bath is the way to do it. But you might be better off popping open a bottle of bubbly. The contaminants 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde have been found in countless bath products – even those purported to be “safe” for kids! These are known carcinogens, folks, and small exposures do add up.

Buyer beware: Read it and weep: Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (of “no more tears” fame) has been on the toxic offender list for more than two years, and has yet to clean up its act.

3 – Lead in Lipstick: Don’t lick your lips!


You’ve probably heard reports for years about the presence of lead in your favorite lipstick. And you may have figured, “Hey, I’m not eating my lipstick, so I’m in the clear, right?” Wrong. Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause learning, language, and behavioral problems – and recent science indicates that there is no safe level of lead exposure.

Buyer beware: In a 2009 study, the FDA found the highest lead levels in Cover Girl, L’Oreal, Body Shop, Maybelline, and Revlon lipsticks.

4 – Knocked Out at the Nail Salon: Hold your breath!


The stink that greets you when you walk into a nail salon? No surprise here – it’s rotten for your health, too. The toxic chemicals in nail polish, nail polish remover, and artificial nail products are suspected to cause asthma, reproductive harm, and even cancer. Nail techs are particularly susceptible to the toxicity, reporting decreased attention and processing skills and increases in asthma and other breathing problems.

Buyer beware: In recent years, many manufacturers have reformulated their nail products to remove dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene, but some nail treatments by Nail Tek, OPI, and Essie still contain the toxic trio of ingredients.

5 – Another Sunscreen Surprise: Speeding the development of tumors and lesions, ugh!


It’s one thing to find out that the products you’ve been using to look pretty might not be up to par; it’s quite another to discover that the products you’ve been looking to for protection can actually make your situation worse. The FDA has recently discovered that retinyl palmitate, when applied in the presence of sunlight, may actually speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. The issue? This form of vitamin A is added to about 30 percent of all sunscreens.

Buyer beware: There is still no FDA position on the safety of retinoids in cosmetics, and most cosmetics companies have not removed these ingredients from sunscreens and other skin and lip products.

Sadly, there are many, many more toxic offenders in our purses and on our shelves. Check out Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database so you can do your best to avoid death by cosmetics.

-Robyn Tellefsen

Beauty on the Red Carpet: 83rd Annual Academy Awards Goes Au Naturel

83rd Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Beauty fads come and go, but there’s one trend that will never go out of style – natural, healthy-looking skin. With more and more celebs going au naturel, the fresh-faced look, like the one Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Williams, and other celebrities donned at the 83rd annual Academy Awards ceremony, is shaping up to be a red-hot trend for 2011.

In fact, Benjamin Rousseau, national makeup artist for Lancôme, says that this awards season’s beauty trend is one of understated glamour. “The feel is more of a classic elegance rather than a strong, statement-making end result,” he tells Vogue UK. Rousseau, whose clients include Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, and Emma Watson, offers the following prescription for Oscar-worthy beauty:

LIPS: Nude or natural colors
CHEEKS: Touch of cheekbone-enhancing blush
EYES: Soft and smoky

How are the stars getting the coveted clean-and-clear skin needed to achieve a naturally beautiful look? Check out these tips from the International Spa Association (ISPA) about the beauty products and treatments favored by the hottest names around.

Celeb Beauty Picks
>> This year’s Best Actress nominees (Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, and Natalie Portman) each scored an Award-Season Survival Kit courtesy of Murad. The kits include goodies like cleansing cream to remove makeup and exfoliate skin, moisturizer to achieve the luminous look, and dietary supplements to encourage sleep and boost cellular regeneration.

>> A-List actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez are opting for fruit-filled facial peels, which are designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and boost the skin’s natural radiance. J.Lo also loves SkinCeutical’s paraben-free mattifying fluid to protect her skin from sun damage.

>> Celebrity beauties like Katherine Heigl, Alicia Silverstone, and Jennie Garth are into Eminence Organics, a skin care line of all-natural products featuring scientific combinations of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Jessica Simpson is a fan of Jurlique products to moisturize, prep, and balance her skin before applying makeup.

>> Oscar-worthy beauty products cross gender lines, too. E! red carpet host Ryan Seacrest digs Skin 2 Skin Care products, which are staples of any red carpet makeup artist’s kit. The products are known for promoting collagen production and reducing puffiness with the help of antioxidants. The Herculean Kevin Sorbo loves Skin Authority, which is well-known for its products that reverse wrinkles and provide a natural eye-lift.

>> Even non-celebs can get star treatment at spas like Spa Montage Beverly Hills, which is currently offering the “Ultimate Pre-Red Carpet Spa Experience.” Those who indulge in the two- to three-day package benefit from an anti-aging facial, body sculpting therapy, a back facial, and a full-body wrap. You’ll even get luxury products to take home with you.

Maybe you won’t make it to the red carpet – this year. But with these tips from the top, you can’t say you weren’t prepared.

–Robyn Tellefsen


Beauty Liberation

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Since a young age, I’ve always loved makeup and nail polish and high heels. I’m a girly girl, who may (at times) be a little high maintenance. But at least I accept who I am! Since I’ve been snowed in in my apartment I haven’t had a need to put on makeup or blow out my hair. And ya know what? It’s kind of liberating.

Due to my skin type (I’m on the extreme side of the oily spectrum), I tend to find that my foundation will often wipe off throughout the day. This certainly drives me insane, but that’s why I keep my green tea oil-blotting sheets on hand for free moments of glancing in the mirror. This week, I’ve naturally still had the oil problem, but haven’t felt my foundation melting away. Another common “day face” product I use is mascara to brighten my eyes and accentuate my face. This would have not been a good thing this week, especially due to my lounging around (and tendency to nap the day my electricity was out). It was nice to not have to worry about finding makeup everywhere but actually on my face. It was like giving my face a very much well-deserved break.

Of course, I’ve been keeping up with my normal beauty routine of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing my face. I’m not completely lazy! There’s a difference between maintenance and putting on your everyday face. When I’m leaving my apartment, I like to feel as beautiful as I can. This doesn’t mean that I need to do a complete going-out routine. It’s just a little grooming and tweaking to enhance my face and fix some imperfections.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been able to sleep in this week and get caught up on some beauty rest! Though I may have been cursing the snow and Mother Nature during the past week, I’ve sure been able to relax with my beauty routine under the covers.

-Amanda Fornecker

Beauty Professionals are Surveyed

Makeup Brush

Nothing is more sought out than the advice a beauty professional can dish out to his or her clients. This is why it is so important for these professionals to know the best techniques for any beauty routine. Recently Empire Education Group surveyed some of their cosmetology students to get their opinions on different beauty routine topics.

The cosmetology students at Empire were asked to give their opinions on styling, eyebrow removal techniques, nail enhancements, and more. The results of this survey may or may not surprise you, but knowing how these students responded may just help you with future client consultations.

The results of this survey were as follows:

  1. 66 percent of students stated that the biggest styling mistake a person can make is not using enough styling products.
  2. 59 percent said that the most difficult hairstyle to complete at home is an updo.
  3. 74 percent said that the eyebrow removal technique that lasts the longest is hot wax.
  4. 56 percent said that people with sensitive skin should not use any type of exfoliator.
  5. 61 percent declared that nail enhancements are always in style.
  6. 54 percent said that makeup brushes are the absolute most necessary tools to have in your makeup bag.

For more information on Empire Education Group and how to get your start as a beauty professional at one of their schools, click here.

Priscilla Rodriguez