The Ugly Truths of the Beauty Industry


CC Image courtesy of ebbandflo_pomomama at Flickr

by Chase Rosen


Can you identify any of the ingredients listed on your mascara? Do you have any idea what swallowing lipstick can do to your body?

There is a dark side to the beauty industry. Scientists, green aficionados and make up artists are working together to unveil and inform people about the ugly truths of the cosmetics industry. If you are what you eat and put in your body… are you what you put on your body? From the runway to real life, one make up artist is looking to make a positive difference in how both women and men consider their health, beauty and well-being.

Kristen Arnett, a make up artist working to create a positive change in the beauty industry says, “99.5 percent of the cosmetics on the market have toxic chemicals in them, and more than one toxic chemical in them.”

Her passion for eco-friendly products led to – a website consisting of testimonials, articles and tips about healthy products and habits.

“Women on average use about 12 cosmetic products per day, and that might be body wash or lotion. These products are manufactured to create dependency for the skin and creates a lot of skin problems,” says Arnett.

The majority of products on the shelves of your local drug store contain a chemical called sodium laureth sulfate. This FDA approved chemical strips the skin of all its natural protections and oils. The foam you see from many cleaning products is misleading.  You think you’re getting a clean wash, but in cases, it’s causing your skin to become raw and upset. After a shower, people generally moisturizer to replenish any lost oils and to keep your skin silky smooth and hydrated. However, the majority of moisturizers sold today are filled with mineral oils and parabens, which coat the skin and restrict it from breathing.

But, big leaders in the industry like Avon, Revlon and CoverGirl, defend their practices. In a statement, they said that they have taken steps to remove potentially harmful ingredients from their products and are within FDA regulations. The FDA is the pre-market regulatory body that ensures all products have information that show the ingredients, process and risks. In accordance with FDA rules and regulations, all ingredients must be printed on packaging… however, the packaging is usually the first thing we throw out when purchasing a new lipstick or eyeshadow.

Sephora, one of the largest cosmetic stores in the country, has created a green initiative to inform consumers of what they’re purchasing. They have what’s been appropriately dubbed, the “Natural Seal.” Products with this sticker mean that they do not include 6 out of 8 of these ingredients:

●      GMOs – genetically modified organisms whose long-term effects on humans have not been studied.

●      Parabens – preservatives used to prevent the growth of disease-causing microbes.  Some believe parabens increase the risk of developing skin problems like tumors and cancer.

●      Petrochemicals – the byproducts of this substance forms dioxins and other chemicals known to cause cancer, endocrine dysfunction and other health problems.

●      Phthalates – used to improve plastic’s functionality, it can cause endocrine problems.

●      Sulfates – a chemical that can cause stomach pains and diarrhea.

●      Synthetic fragrances – chemicals that can lead to allergic reactions like sneezing, difficulty breathing, itchy eyes and headaches.

●      Synthetic dyes – used to add colors to cosmetics, many of them are made up of dioxins, formaldehyde and toxic metals known to cause cancer.

●      Triclosan – added to kill bacteria, this chemical has been known to cause cancer in humans.

While the majority of the beauty industry is unable to eliminate all eight ingredients due to monetary issues, a few companies are working to be 100 percent natural. Some of the leaders in this race to natural based products are: Pangea Organics, Korres and Josie Maran. Even with growing competition, there is one big similarity: all prices are on par.

So, if you wouldn’t put it in your body, would you put it on your body? Kristen Arnett, Green Beauty Team, Sephora and other large players are all working in tandem to inform consumers on what these long-named products are. Additionally, the FDA website provides a quiz you can take to assess your intelligence about make up. Just because it looks good, doesn’t always mean it’s good for you.


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