Day 20–What’s In Your Makeup Bag?

Lotion Bars

We seem to have an astonishing number of beauty products in our house. Between my pre-teen and I, we seem to have enough supplies to open our own Ulta store. Couple that with my husband’s amazing coupon savvy and we also have enough “almost free” deodorant and toothpaste to last the rest of our lives. I know enough to buy unscented products most of the time, but really, I am just now learning about the chemicals and other somewhat bizarre ingredients (placenta? formaldehyde?) that are allowed to be in our cleansers, moisturizers, soaps, shampoo and so on.

I recently heard a great piece on NPR’s “The People’s Pharmacy” about household and food toxins and the impact they have on people, especially children and pregnant women. I had no idea that neither the FDA nor the Consumer Products Safety Commission regulate what chemicals go into beauty products. The terms “natural,” “hypoallergenic,” and “organic” when it relates to beauty products can be used without any proof to substantiate those claims. This concerns me. Greatly. In addition, a recent study from Europe found that all women treated for breast cancer had parabens present in their breast tissue. Parabens are regularly present in such products as moisturizer, deodorant and shampoo.

I did find a great website (referenced in the above “People’s Pharmacy” segment) from the Environmental Working Group called Skin Deep that has tested and rated beauty and hygiene products. Each product has two ratings–one is a numerical rating 0-10 (0 being least toxic, 10=most toxic) based on ingredients and levels of potential toxicity. The other is a rating on the level of date available for the safety of that product (“robust” to “none”). Many products also have a narrative description of why they received that ranking. You can search by company name, by type of product and by ingredient. It’s a nice tool and very interesting, but they really need a phone app so you can take that information with you when shopping.

The website address is

Here is what we found:

  • Our deodorants had high toxicity levels for the chemicals and trace chemicals in them.
  • Our toothpaste didn’t fare much better, at medium levels of toxicity.
  • My Boots No. 7 facial moisturizer fared pretty well (better than my old Bobbi Brown products)
  • The Bath and Body Works lotion and body gel soap I received for Christmas are going bye-bye. They were at the highest levels of toxicity (probably due to their fragrance and levels of parabens).
  • Makeup fared so-so. Mascara, due to its petroleum product base tends to fare worse than, say, most lip gloss. Foundation, bronzers and blushes run a wide range from low to very high (glitter products were the worst).

So, what now? Here’s the plan:

  • The worst offenders go first. We will replace our deodorant and toothpaste this week. That’s an easy fix. Other offenders like the Bath & Body Works lotion and soap will go as well.
  • As we run out of our regular, unscented body lotion, we will replace them with lotion that is better. After looking at some prices of the best scoring products ($15 for a bottle of body lotion???), we may try to find other options.
  • Some items, like my Bobbi Brown concealer and foundation? That’s a harder call. I love them and they work so well, it will be hard to switch.

The Big Dilemma

So now that we will be getting rid of some of our old products, we have a dilemma. What to do about the stockpile of products (many unused) that we have now? We don’t want to put them in the landfill, but I feel guilty about giving them to charity when I know they aren’t good for you.

What would you do??

Leave a comment


  1. Lav Chintapalli

     /  January 21, 2012

    Awesome post! Thx for the link. I would say give it to charity: dried cracking skin is painful in the winter. So are bleeding gums. We are lucky if we are able to choose the quality of live, since people in shelters and charity often just have to choose life.

  2. Thanks, Lav! I appreciate your support!

  3. i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.

  4. Thank you for reading! I really appreciate the feedback!

  5. Emma

     /  March 11, 2012

    A few suggestions to try. For underarm odor, while showering or bathing, use a bit of baking soda to gently clean that area. Once you are out of the tub or shower, pat dry and apply a bit of apple cider vinegar under the arms. Once the vinegar has dried, dust on a bit of baking soda. This will NOT function as an antiperspirant but WILL control odor. Secondly, instead of roughly towel drying after bathing, pat dry to remove excess water but leave skin moist. Apply olive oil as you would any lotion. Scents can be added to the baking soda and olive oil by using a tiny bit of essential oil such as lavender. For facial skin care, olive oil is again your friend. Use it to remove makeup. Restore the skin’s normal pH by splashing on a bit of apple cider vinegar and rinsing thoroughly. Then apply plain olive oil in place of your moisturizer. For dull skin that may need a bit of exfoliating, try using freshly squeezed lemon juice before applying the olive oil or a face mask of plain yogurt. Both contain natural AHAs. In response to another posting about coffee, try using herbal teas with the juice of a fresh lemon and a tsp. of honey or just the lemon juice and honey in freshly boiled water. Very refreshing and a good morning tonic to start the day. There should be enough juice left in the lemon to then take it to the bath with you for your beauty routine. If you need a bit of a pick me up and a boost to your iron level, substitute molasses for the honey in the hot water. To get the last bit of usefulness out of that lemon, after using it on your face, rub a bit on your feet and then follow with olive oil. This will help keep feet smooth and soft and also works well for rough knees and elbows.
    I just found your blog today and am slowly working my way through it. Thanks for sharing all the good information you are learning!


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