Walking down the makeup and personal care aisles at the grocery or department store can be an overwhelming experience due to the wide array of products all claiming multiple benefits. With recent reports warning of high chemical content in personal care products, consumers are wondering how to make healthy choices when it comes to makeup and beauty products. Follow these guidelines for a safer beauty routine.
Say No to knockoffs!
Though the price may be attractive, buying a knockoff product can produce ugly results. Knockoffs are illegally produced products that sometimes make their way into retail, particularly through independently owned businesses and online sellers. These products can look like the real thing, so they may seem like a good value; however, you may not receive the product you think you are buying, and knockoffs can contain heavy metals or other harmful ingredients. Depending on your reaction, some of the ingredients in knockoff beauty products are harmful enough to cause permanent scarring. Make sure to buy cosmetics from authorized retailers and beware of online deals from unauthorized sellers. If you are in doubt about a product, call the company’s customer care hotline and ask them to verify, using a lot number or bar code, that it is the “real deal.”
Is the SPF in Your Makeup Enough?
Many cosmetics boast SPF protection in addition to their regular benefits, but is it enough? Most cosmetics do not contain enough SPF to be effective. Experts recommend wearing sunscreen daily under your makeup. Without sunscreen, you would need to wear seven times as much foundation or 14 times more powder than the normal amount to get the amount of sun protection advertised on the label. Our dermatology office’s in Blairsville and Indiana have products safe for all skin types.
There Are Toxins Where?
Due to loopholes in U.S. law, cosmetics companies are largely unregulated and have no limits on the amounts of chemicals they can use in their products. Though many companies work hard to use healthy ingredients, some have been found to include chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects. Companies are also not required to do any safety testing or to monitor health effects of their products, and labeling and marketing requirements are insubstantial. Though the amount of chemicals in a given product tend to be rather insignificant alone, most people use many of these products daily–from makeup to shampoo – and the chemicals can be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, accumulating in our bodies throughout our lives, with possible serious health consequences. Luckily, more companies are beginning to take steps to make their products safer. Some basic rules to follow include:
- Avoid anything with “fragrance” or “parfum” listed as an ingredient. Companies do not have to disclose the chemicals used in these fragrances, many of which have been linked to allergies, respiratory distress, and even effects on the reproductive system.
- Avoid powder sunscreens
- Avoid dark permanent hair dyes and chemical hair straighteners (particularly keratin treatments), as they often contain toxic ingredients, including formaldehyde, which has been linked to cancer. If you prefer dark hair dye, try temporary or natural dyes–such as henna–to avoid chemicals such as coal tar, which is linked to certain cancers and neurological damage.
- Look for credible certifications from a third-party to validate cosmetic label claims. Though many products claim to be organic, several greatly exaggerate their actual organic content. Look for the NSF (formerly known as the National Sanitation Foundation) label for products with at least 70 percent organic content and the USDA Organic label for those with at least 95 percent organic content by weight.
Time to Toss?
Cosmetics and personal care products expire just like food, but often the expiration date is based on when you open a product rather than its age. Over time, bacteria levels climb in your beauty care products due to air exposure and general use. Some bacteria in your products is unavoidable and perfectly safe, but elevated levels can lead to breakouts or infections. In general, anything powder-based can last you up to two years, though liquid and cream-based formulas should be tossed six to twelve months after opening. Lipsticks last about a year while glosses should be thrown out after six months. Eye makeup generally has the shortest shelf-life as it is more open to bacterial growth, with mascara as the worst offender, lasting only two to four months. Pencil liners are the exception as they are consistently sharpened and can last for about a year. Also, avoid sharing your makeup, using testers at cosmetic counters, and adding water or saliva to makeup as these practices greatly increase the bacteria you are exposed to. Don’t forget to keep cosmetic containers tightly closed, store them in a cool, dry area, and watch for any signs of separation or odor.