Questionable Cosmetics - What’s the Make Up of Your Makeup?

Samantha L. Oram
Featured Water Professional

Hey there, my name is Samantha and I am the newest member of the KnowYourH2O Team.  Because the portal has a focus on both the indoor and outdoor environment and because there are a lot of consumer products that contain chemicals that can impact your health, my role will be to try to speak to these issues, in this article, on skincare and makeup products.

Why me?  Ever since I could remember I’ve loved makeup/skincare. I’m in my twenties and will be attending school to become an esthetician (skincare therapist), which is my dream career. I’ve tried many products and you’d be surprised how many name brands you are using that are terrible for your skin and potentially not good for your long-term health! I am very concerned about my health because I have Crohn’s, which is an autoimmune disorder; I was first diagnosed when I was about 11 years old. If you are interested in learning about all the “bad” ingredients in skincare/makeup products then you will want to keep an eye out for my posts! 

Today I’m just going to do a quick overview for a few things. Now everyone’s skin is different and certain products may work for some but not others but there are certain chemicals and ingredients in some makeup and skincare products that are harmful to your skin. Fragrance in products is a big one. Not only are certain people more sensitive to it if you have sensitive skin, there are many chemicals in fragrances that are harmful to skin that may not be listed on the label.  While searching and learning on this topic I came across these statements:

“We (the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) determined that exposure to 10 ppm lead from incidental ingestion of cosmetic lip products is very small and cannot be measured in routine blood testing. Exposure to lead from other cosmetics is by absorption through the skin, but the amount absorbed is very small. This means that exposure to lead from a product such as eye shadow or body lotion is even lower than exposure to lead from a lipstick or other lip cosmetic, and also cannot be measured in routine blood testing. Based on these factors, we concluded that up to 10 ppm (10,000 ppb) lead in cosmetic lip products and externally applied cosmetics would not pose a health risk. (Source)

“The law doesn’t require cosmetic products or ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market, and it doesn’t require cosmetic firms to share their safety data with the agency. Cosmetics must be properly labeled and safe when used according to their directions or when used in the customary or expected way.” (Source

Question:  If you're not aware of this potential health concern or exposure and the importance of following customary use, can this not result in a health problem?

In preparing for this introductory blog post, I read some articles about the effects of lead on the human body and lead in drinking water (Standard is 5 ppb or 0.005 mg/L, but the maximum contaminant goal is ZERO). I also learned that lead is actually added to some cosmetics. If there is no safe exposure to Lead in Drinking Water, it must be true that lead in cosmetics may not be good for my health or my skin's health. Lead can be found in many things such as lip gloss, eyeliner, foundation and more. Lead is a neurotoxin and has been known to cause infertility, irregular hormones, and miscarriages and there is no safe level of exposure to lead. For young teens, if using products with lead, it can even delay puberty when used daily. It is toxic to the immune system and nervous system so I would try to stay clear of it. 

In 2007 to 2011, the FDA did an evaluation of the presence of lead in cosmetics that included eye shadows, blushes, lotions, mascaras, foundations, body powders, compact powders, shaving creams, and face paints.  Reportedly over 99 % of the 685 products that were tested by the FDA had less than 10 ppm of lead.  Here us a link to some information about lead content in lipstick: Limiting Lead in Lipstick and Other Cosmetics

The good news is that protecting your body and health from the dangers of toxic chemicals in popular fragrance and cosmetic products can be simple, but does require some work. You must be willing to first learn about the potential chemical exposures, try to avoid the chemical exposure, use the product as directed, and you must learn how these products are and are NOT regulated. 

To begin this process, I am recommending the following:

Step 1:  Get Informed

It is important to arm yourself with the facts, if you love yourself, be willing to learn and take care of yourself.  To learn more about “Lead and other Heavy Metals in Skin Care Products we recommend visiting the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC).  CSC is attempting to focus attention and support an grassroots effort to make beauty and personal care products safer for all.  CSC is a program of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP), a national science-based advocacy organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating environmental exposures linked to the disease.

You started this learning process by visiting and reading this blog post or some other related websites.

Lead in Cosmetics 

FDA's Testing of Cosmetics for Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt, Lead, Mercury, and Nickel Content

Cosmetics that may contain Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt, Lead, Mercury, and Nickel

Recommended Reading – Yes a Book! 

Toxic Beauty: The hidden chemicals in cosmetics and how they can harm us

“Every year consumers or users can each absorb an estimated 2 kilograms of chemicals through beauty and cosmetic products. Chemicals found in lipsticks, skin lotions and hair dyes have been linked with tumors, cell mutation, allergies, reproductive complications, endocrine disruption and cancer. Isn't it time we all paid more attention to exactly what goes into the eye shadows, body washes and deodorants we love to use? This compelling and timely book tells you the key chemicals you should avoid, reveals just how natural 'organic' beauty products really are, and features a directory highlighting the health issues surrounding a wide range of products, from hair gel to sunscreens.” (Source Dawn Mellowship, Amazon Listing, 2023)

Step 2: Get Tested

Get Your Hair Tested - Check out your total body metal exposure

Get Your Drinking Water Tested for Metals 

One of the significant limitations to getting tested is that “skin care products cannot be tested by a consumer in the same way that drinking water can be.  Consumers of skincare products pretty much have to rely on specifications from the manufacturers and test results from government agencies.” (Dr. Brian Redmond (Phd) Reviewer, October 2023)   Therefore, our best recommendation about specific skin care products is to “Learn” about the product, the ingredients, and the manufacturer. Testing hair and drinking water for metals may be a good idea for many reasons,  but this does not provide a direct assessment of a specific skin care product or treatment program.   

Recommended Skincare Products

I am working on future articles – I believe my next article will be about some of the common chemicals in cosmetics, how you can track down the chemical compounds,  and how to build a report about the potential concerns for the products that you are using.  Here is a short list of some products that I have found effective for me:

Peach Slices | Snail Rescue Blemish=Busting Toner 

“Snail Mucin: Touted for boosting skin hydration & reducing skin inflammation, 95% snail mucin concentrate binds moisture to skin while helping skin to naturally exfoliate while targeting dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.  

Cica & Hyaluronic Acid: Cica can help stimulate collagen production while it also tightens, repairs, fights breakouts, and soothes your skin. Hyaluronic acid is proven to help wounds heal faster, reduce scarring, and allow the skin to stretch and flex.”(Source - Peach Slices Store at Amazon, 2023)

Cocokind Ceramide Serum 

“Cocokind Ceramide Barrier Serum is made with a blend of five ceramides, squalane, and lactic acid that help maintain the skin barrier, hydrate and protect against dehydration, and reduce signs of irritation and aging.” (Source - Cokokind Store at Amazon, 2023)

Heritage Store Rosewater Spray  

“The Original Rosewater: Spray throughout the day to refresh, hydrate & uplift your skin.” (Source - Heritage Store at Amazon, 2023)

Samantha L. Oram

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