Give Your Makeup a Makeover

Yesterday the California State Senate approved the first bill in the country that prohibits the use of lead in lipstick. You’re probably thinking: What do West Coast government policies have to do with Hudson Valley fashion? Well, nothing and everything.

This decision is at the forefront of a serious issue currently facing the cosmetics industry. Unlike your food, which is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), by law, the government cannot authorize safety studies of cosmetic products or their ingredients. In fact, according to Skin Deep, a safety guide for personal care products and cosmetics created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), only 13 percent of the 1,500 cosmetic products have been evaluated.

Because there is no such requirement in federal law to routinely test or approve cosmetics before they hit the market, dangerous ingredients like lead, which is a known neurotoxin (that has been linked to problems like lowered IQ), are plentiful in most of commonly used products. This is a big problem since a lot of the beauty products we know and love contain nasty chemicals that have been shown to cause health-threatening conditions like cancer. In fact, according to a January Times-Union article, the average woman uses as many as 25 products containing hundreds of chemical compounds.

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And it turns out that some of the most popular products are among the worst. Skin Deep links ingredients in over 25,000 products to 50 toxicity and regulatory databases; according to their Web site, some of our favorite brands scored the highest hazard ratings.

In a recent issue of Allure magazine, I read that only 10 percent of women say they don’t use makeup daily. That makes a huge percentage of ladies who do, and is clearly indicative of the magnitude of this issue. So what’s our solution? Can we force the companies to change their manufacturing standards? Should we go barefaced? I know I don’t want to be doing any extra work to increase my chances of getting cancer. So I decided to protect myself by giving my makeup box a makeover: I’ve switched to natural mineral makeup.

Fortunately, along with everything else in the world that is going green, (at least) some of cosmetics companies seem to be catching on. Now we can purchase beauty products — for every skin tone and type ­— that work the same magic as our former brands, but are proven to not only be nice to the environment, but don’t contribute to cancer and birth defects the way a lot of the other ones do. These products are made from organic-, natural-, or mineral-based materials.

Mineral makeup is generally made from natural minerals that have been pounded into a silky powder and are preferably formulated without preservatives or talc. Natural makeup usually implies that it uses principally naturally derived and plant-based ingredients, and has been created with little to no parabens, petrochemicals, and phthalates. The term “organic” refers to the method by which agricultural products are grown and processed. Organic ingredients are cultivated free of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides.

But before you make the switch to earth/health-friendly brands, make sure you read the label. Just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain scary components. It’s important to avoid three major ingredients in cosmetics: preservatives like parabens, phthalates, and talc. Parabens, the most commonly used synthetic preservatives, have been linked to breast cancer. Phthalates are industrial chemicals that are frequently used in fragrances, shampoos, lotions, and nail polish and can be harmful to the reproductive system. Talc has been linked to ovarian cancer.

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So after we’ve read all of the labels on the shelf, what’s left for us eco-savvy beauty queens? Among our mineral, natural, and organic makeup options, a few of my favorites include Bare Escentuals, NVEY ECO, and Jane Iredale. These brands contain safe ingredients and are good for irritable and sensitive skin.

Scroll down for Valley locations where you can find these great brands.

Get Started Eyes, Cheeks, and Lips Kit by Bare Escentuals, $49

Get Started Foundation Kit by Bare Escentuals, $75

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Dream Tint by Jane Iredale, $36

Find Bare Escentuals products at:

Ania Hair Studio

Body Essentuals and Hair 2000
Clifton Park Center Mall, Clifton Park

Gentle Touch Body Care and Salon

The Center For Beautiful Skin
White Plains

Find Bare Escentuals products, and other natural, organic, and mineral makeup, like NVEY and Korres, at the following regional Sephora stores:

Colonie Center

Palisades Mall
West Nyack

Westchester Mall
White Plains

Find Jane Iredale products at the following Valley locations:

Bella Luci Salon

C’est la Vie Spa & Salon

Eve Day Spa
Cold Spring

Haven Spa

Rumors Salon and Spa

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