February 2018
Perspectives on Beauty

In my chair -- a makeup artists perspective on beauty: Eva DeVirgilis at TEDxRVAWomen
In my chair -- a makeup artists perspective on beauty: Eva DeVirgilis at TEDxRVAWomen

Eva DeVirgilis  is a veteran actress from New York who moved to Richmond and took up makeup artistry as a means to pay the bills. She soon discovered a new passion: helping women look and feel their best. In this TED Talk, her mission is to convince every woman that she is beautiful -- with or without makeup.
The Story of Cosmetics

The Story of Cosmetics
The Story of Cosmetics

The Story of Cosmetics examines the pervasive use of chemicals in our everyday personal care products. This seven-minute film by The Story of Stuff Project reveals the implications for consumer and worker health and the environment, and outlines ways we can move towards alternative ingredients to ensure the safety of personal care products.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics works to protect the health of consumers, workers, and the environment through public education and engagement, corporate accountability and sustainability campaigns, and legislative advocacy to eliminate dangerous chemicals linked to adverse health impacts from cosmetics and personal care products.

The Environmental Working Group uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment. Their Skin Deep database hosts online profiles for a range of cosmetics and personal care products and their ingredients, and gives consumers practical solutions to protect themselves and their families from everyday exposures to chemicals.

HowStuffWorks is an award-winning source of unbiased, reliable, easy-to-understand answers and explanations of how the world actually works. In a series of pages on " How Makeup Works," they explore people's relationship with cosmetics and discuss the history, chemistry, and psychology of makeup.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for protecting the public's health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, food, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA also provides accurate, science-based health information to the public.
Beauty Products & Health

Cosmetics are a part of everyday life for both men and women. In fact, women use an average of 12 personal care products a day; men use about 6. Many people want to look good and feel good, and they use cosmetics to achieve this. Because of their prevalent use in society, it's important to be an informed and educated consumer. So, this month, we focus on cosmetics and how they affect you.
Reasons for Cosmetics Use
Researchers believe that we all come programmed with beauty detectors, and we're wired to seek out appealing faces; its also believed that we're wired to find youth more attractive than old age. Makeup, then, researchers believe, is a way to highlight and amplify our features and youth.  Eye shadows, eyeliners, and mascara all make the eyes pop; blush emphasizes the cheekbones; and lipstick shows off plump lips. Foundations and concealers help us present smooth skin, a sign of youth and health. It's believed that use of cosmetics may be an evolutionary urge to show off our best traits so that we can attain a universal beauty ideal.

Product Safety
Did you know that when it comes to day-to-day safety, the biggest makeup threat is mascara? Mascara wands can poke the eye and scratch the cornea, which could allow bacteria to seep into the eye. And if you don't properly remove your mascara before bed time, it could flake and get into the eye. For maximum makeup safety, never apply mascara when moving (such as in a car on the way to work) or when your hands are full, always wash makeup off each night, keep makeup away from heat that could destroy bacteria-killing preservatives, and never share makeup.
But some people claim that these daily safety tips ignore the larger threat we face by putting makeup on our face and bodies, and that more must be done to police the cosmetics industry. In 1938, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a limited role in regulating cosmetics. The FDA doesn't inspect or test cosmetics before they hit the shelves; rather, each company is responsible for ensuring their products are safe for use. "Safe for use" has generally meant that it won't cause adverse skin reactions in a large group of people. If a product hits the market and causes problems, the company is expected to recall it, and the FDA can pursue legal action to ensure they do so. The FDA has this limited role because cosmetics have been distinguished from medicine and drugs in that they do not alter the structure of the skin or the body; any cosmetic that claims to do so would be subject to investigation or testing by the FDA.
Is this kind of oversight enough? Many critics, such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, say no, that the cosmetics industry shouldn't be allowed to self-regulate and the FDA should set more rigid definitions for what constitutes a "safe" cosmetic product. A 2007 report in the Telegraph found that women who wear cosmetics absorb nearly 5 pounds of chemicals into their bodies each year, and safety advocates say that we don't know enough yet about certain compounds in makeup to know whether such absorption is dangerous.
Of particular concern to cosmetics watchdogs are lead in lipstick, parabens in skin care products, and phthalates in nail polishes and fragrances. Several studies have shown that lipsticks contain varying levels of lead -- not because lead is added to the lipstick, but because it's a byproduct of the manufacturing process. If you lick your lips several times a day while wearing lipstick, how much lead would you consume? Doctors are divided on whether consuming even a negligible amount would be safe. Parabens and phthalates have been linked with reproductive problems in lab animals and in some humans, but again, doctors don't know much about the long-term effects of these compounds.

"Natural" Products
The European Union and Canada have stringent rules about ingredients in cosmetics, so for years some health advocates have claimed that it's time for the U.S. to have a federal law regulating cosmetics safety. In 2010, representatives introduced a bill that would give the FDA more power over the cosmetics industry, but unfortunately the bill wasn't dealt with before that congressional session closed.

Some people aren't waiting for the FDA or legislators to take a stronger role. Instead, they seek out organic or natural makeup -- products that lack the preservatives and fragrances that may contain harmful ingredients found in mainstream cosmetics. It's important to remember, though, that the FDA hasn't defined "organic" or "natural," which means that anyone can put that label on their product. Dermatologists also warn that certain plant extracts can cause skin irritation or could even prove poisonous.

A popular option for natural makeup devotees is mineral makeup, which is made from naturally occurring minerals such as zinc, lapis lazuli, and titanium dioxide that are ground into a fine powder. Mineral makeup often comes with the claim that it's better for skin, though that hasn't been definitively proven. This type of makeup is free from fragrances and oils that can irritate the skin, and it contains zinc, which is good for your epidermis, but it's likely not the treatment for acne that some companies promise.

The Battle Continues
The battle for safe and environmentally friendly makeup will likely continue for years to come, as consumers protest everything from animal testing to reports of makeup toxicity to even whether makeup packaging can be recycled. No matter where you stand on the subject, just be sure to stay informed and do what feels right to you.
This content is provided by HowStuffWorks. 
Visit their "How Makeup Works" webpage for more information.
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Jane E. Brody is the personal health columnist for The New York Times, a position she has held since 1976. In this piece, " For Cosmetics, Let the Buyer Beware," she talks about some of the harmful chemicals found in cosmetic products and encourages readers to be informed consumers.

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