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  • Writer's pictureAnita Hollerer-Squire

The downside to looking good

I grew up with the motto: "Schoenheit muss leiden" - which means something like "If you want to look beautiful, you need to suffer". Little did I know how true that statement actually is!

Did you know that the body absorbs about 60 percent of what we apply to our skin? The skin is our largest organ and part of what we put on will end up in our blood stream.

We expose ourselves to a wide variety of chemicals - not just from cosmetics but also from deodorants, shampoos & conditioners, body lotions, sunscreens, etc.

You would expect that the personal care products we buy are safe. That they have been checked by someone and that the ingredients are safe to use.

Unfortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth.

Some chemicals in personal care products have never been thoroughly assessed and we have no way of knowing what the long-term effects of using those products are.

So, ladies - what are you really putting on your skin??

Some of the worst chemicals in our beauty products:


(widely used in cosmetics including lipstick, mascara, foundation, eye shadow)

Used as a preservative - listed as Propyl-, Isopropyl-, Butyl-, and Isobutyl- parabens. They can cause major dermatological issues, cause reproductive and developmental disorders and could facilitate the development of breast cancer.

Oxybenzone also know as benzophenone-3

(lipstick, lipbalm ,foundation, suncreen)

It is a sunscreen ingredient and has been linked to free-radical damage to skin, hormone disruption and allergies.


(foundation, shampoo, deodorant, face creams, body lotions)

Those are the most common cause of skin irritation and could consist of any combination of chemicals, including hormone-disrupting phthalates.

Choose fragrance-free products or opt for natural fragrances like essential oils.

Vitamin A listed as retinyl palmitate, retinol, retinyl acetate

(lipstick, mascara, foundation, lip products, moisturizers, sunscreen)

This can build up in pregnant women harming unborn fetuses. It also increases skin sensitivity and creates cellular-level damages that are linked to reproductive issues and cancer.

Formaldehyde releasers – Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15:

(mascara, foundation, eye shadow, nail polish)

This is a preservative that slowly releases the known carcinogen formaldehyde. It is a skin irritant and has been linked to cancer.


(lipsticks, hair dyes)

Lead is a metal that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems. Lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous even at small doses.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers a more detailed list on chemicals including safety tips.

Let's take a closer look at some of these cosmetic items:


Many women make it their morning ritual to cover their faces and neck with foundations. Some makeup ingredients such as fragrances and preservatives trigger allergic reactions. Preservatives in makeup include parabens, which have been detected in cancer cells. Also look out for formaldehyde - it can irritate your eyes and skin and is linked to cancer.

Some of the worst brands are Revlon, Neutrogena, NARS, Rimmel, CoverGirl, Maybelline, L'Oreal.

Luckily there are better options out there and companies are increasingly looking for alternatives to toxic chemicals. Look for organic brands.

If you want to know how your brand rates, you can check it out in EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.


Every day millions of women apply lipstick. What many don't know is that lipsticks may contain lead as well as several other toxic chemicals.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted a testing in 2010. The survey found that the average lead concentration in the 400 lipsticks tested was 1.11 ppm. The results ranged from the detection limit of 0.026 ppm to the highest value of 7.19 ppm.

The highest one with 7.19 ppm of lead was Maybelline by L'Oréal.

Next to L'Oréal, Shisheido (NARS) and Procter & Gamble (Cover Girl) were the worst.

You can see the FDA analyses of lead in lipsticks here.

A single lipstick application will not do you much harm. The problem starts when women apply lipstick many times a day over many years - which means that exposure to lead and other heavy metals adds up.

Medical experts say there is no safe level of lead in the blood - while the FDA says it doesn't consider the lead levels it found in lipsticks to be a safety issue.

So, who should we believe?

The good news is that not all lipsticks contain detectable levels of lead or other heavy metals - again, educate yourself and choose wisely!

As for the best lipsticks - Rejuva Minerals Pur Lips Lipstick, Red Red Wine is EWG's top pick. Click here for a list of EWG's top lipsticks.


Ahh - beautiful, thick, long eyelashes - who wouldn't want them? Mascara is one of the most used cosmetic items in the world. And about the only make-up I still use occasionally - have to live dangerously sometimes.....

Not only are there a variety of toxic chemicals in most mascaras - but you also have to be aware that unless you frequently change your mascara, bacteria can grow and if it gets in your eyes it can affect your vision. If you are anything like me and Mascara lasts you for years - we should really make an effort to replace it every 6 months.

Which mascara brands are the worst? Love My Eyes, Too Faced, Rimmel, Physicians Formula (some types are better than others)

Which ones are the best)? Rejuva Minerals Pur Lash Volumizing Mascara, Black Pearl (EWG verified), Ecco Bella Flower Color Natural Black Mascara , Ava Anderson Non Toxic Mascara ...

Check out more of the best and worst mascaras and how your brand holds up here.

Educate yourself! It really pays to know what you are putting on your skin!


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