When young teens start looking into makeup, they are normally interested in the hottest and best looking brands. They want the best quality, and ones that look and acts how they envision. However, they are not exactly thinking about what is best for their skin. Makeup involves more than just how it looks when applied, it also includes skin care. However, not all makeup is healthy for the skin, sometimes it can even be damaging. Unfortunately, finding healthy and safe makeup is not always easy.
This guide will lay out what to look for in cosmetics and what to avoid, so you can keep your skin healthy and safe!
Not Always Natural
When you see the words ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, you tend to believe the label. These words are thrown around a lot in the makeup industry, but unfortunately they mean next to nothing. This is because there is no regulatory oversight over what constitutes ‘natural’ or ‘organic’. This means brands are free to label their products as “safe to use” without having any certification for it.
Man-made chemical components in makeup are relatively known; it is plant-based ingredients that are the problem and are harder to pin down. Dermatologist Patricia Farris, MD says “she remembers a particular case where a woman had an infection from an all-natural skin care product. The product, which was custom-made for her in a small, organic shop, grew yeast and caused the patient to develop a bad infection.” When products with unknown or untested ingredients are added, there is no testing being done to determine if they are safe for you.
People looking for healthier cosmetics may turn to mineral makeup. This makeup is made from finely ground minerals and does not contain preservatives or fragrances found in most makeup. People whose skin is irritated by those ingredients might have a better time with mineral makeup.
Not only does mineral makeup contain fewer harsh ingredients, but it also should not clog pores or irritate acne. Additionally, many mineral makeups contain ingredients like titanium oxide and zinc oxide, which gives the cosmetics the benefits of sunscreen.
However, opinions on mineral makeup is mixed. Some mineral makeup can contain bismuth oxychloride, which is a byproduct of copper and lead processing, and not at all a mineral. It can irritate acne and cause rashes. Furthermore, ultra finely ground minerals can cause an inhalation issue.
What You Can Do
Unlike drugs, makeup is not monitored by the FDA, with the exception of colorants and pigments. This means that makeup is not tested or approved by the FDA, which means you have to take matters into your own hands. It is up to the consumer to read the ingredients label before buying cosmetics. The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database offers information for nearly 62,000 products containing more than 7,600 ingredients. This is a good resource when shopping for healthy cosmetics as you can easily see what ingredients are at play.
EWG also suggests a list of ingredients to avoid:
- Benzalkonium chloride
- Parabens, propyl, isopropyl, and butyl
- PEG/ceteareth/polyethylene compounds
- Petroleum distillates
- BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)
- DMDM hydantoin and bronopol
- Retinyl palmitate and retinol (vitamin A)
- Triclosan and triclocarban
What else is concerning is the effect makeup can have on the endocrine system. In 2013, a 3-day study called HERMOSA was done by researchers at U.C. Berkeley. They asked 1,000 girls from Latin backgrounds to use cosmetics without potential endocrine disruptors, such as parabens, phthalates, triclosan, and oxybenzone. They found a 25-45% decrease in the presence of endocrine disruptive chemicals in the girls’ urine.
Makeup is just a part of today’s society. Young teens start exploring makeup before they understand the damage it can do. You need to do proper research about the cosmetics you use and encourage others to do the same. Know that ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ mean very little in the world of makeup. Read the ingredients label and avoid the bad ingredients listed above. Give mineral makeup a try and see if the lack of preservatives and fragrance works better for your skin. There are many options for makeup, it is just about finding the right product.
Gwen Lewis is a writer and makeup artist based in Southern California. Because of her passion for beauty and health, she hopes to help others not just look great but feel great, whether through makeup or her writing. In her free time, she enjoy shopping and pick-up soccer games with her friends.