Cosmetics contain a variety of ingredients, some good, some not so good, and some even potentially dangerous. Because so many people use makeup daily, an alarming amount can actually be absorbed into the skin, or breathed in to the lungs. Certain chemicals have been linked to health problems as severe as cancer, while others may cause a simple allergic reaction. With newer technology and spreading awareness of the dangers certain cosmetics carry, comes the advent of “natural” makeups, which are less likely to use harmful chemicals.
One of the most common problems experienced with makeup is an allergic reaction. In many cases, a person doesn’t know they are allergic to the makeup until after using it with adverse results. The chemicals can cause rashes, acne, itching or dryness, wherever the makeup has been applied. The reaction can be nearly undetectable to quite severe. Allergies can be determined by visiting a physician and completing a “patch test.” During the test, the doctor applies certain chemicals to a small area of the skin, and then waits for a few days to see what reaction, if any, occurs. Once an allergy becomes apparent, consumers can avoid makeups that contain the problem chemical.
Certain makeups clog pores more than others. Liquid or cream makeups clog pores the most, while powder makeups and especially mineral makeup tend to leave skin a little clearer. When heavier makeup gets into the pores of the skin, it can be difficult to fully wash all the makeup away before going to sleep. When makeup is left in the pores, it attracts dirt and oil, which in turn combine to create blackheads. Blackheads basically consist of dirt that has gotten stuck within the skin, and they are often visible and can be removed. After a while, the blackhead will turn into a full blown blemish, which is an small bacterial infection. These do not last forever and can be “extracted” from the skin, but they can quite painful. Many people try to cover up blemishes with more makeup, which can actually make the problem worse by attracting more oil or dirt to the inflamed skin. To avoid this, it is best to find a makeup with washes off easily and possibly contains some antibacterial ingredients.
Even though there has been a dramatic increase in the creation of “natural’ or “organic” makeup products, there are still many brands that use potentially dangerous chemicals in the creation of their lines. Not all the ingredients in each product are tested for long-term safety, and although they are tested to make certain that there will be no immediate harmful results, some chemicals have been linked to cancer. It is rare, however, for the millions of people that use makeup daily, the risk increases. Chemicals like amorphous hydrated silica have been shown to contain small amounts of crystalline quartz, which has been linked to the development of cancer. Chemicals like this are absorbed through the skin, and also breathed in, bringing the toxins to the lungs.
Many newer makeup actually contain ingredients that are good for the skin. Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial products help make makeup safer and more healthy for skin. Antibacterial ingredients ward off acne and help reduce redness, counter-acting some conditions that may be caused by other cosmetics. Many lines also include vitamins and even moisturizers that keep skin looking beautiful even after the makeup is washed off. Some foundations or moisturizers also include SPF, helping to avoid sun damaged skin or possibly even melanoma. At the same time, less sun damage also means that the skin looks younger longer, as sun damage creates premature wrinkles.