Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Fabulous Post from Paula Begoun...

Below is a wonderful rant from Paula Begoun's The Beauty Bunch blog, regarding the myths about parabens and the false information that cosmetics companies are spewing about their "organic" and/or "natural" products.

Cosmetic Hysteria – I’ve Had Enough!

Author: Paula Begoun  Cosmetic Hysteria 
I know I’m about to piss a lot of people off with this blog entry but let me just preface what I want to get off my chest by saying I am an environmentalist and have been for years. I live in the Pacific Northwest and as a community and personally we have been ecologically aware for decades. I know polluting our world is a serious problem and we all need to do everything we can to reduce our carbon footprint, but I have had enough with the fear mongering, propaganda, and outright brainwashing the organic and natural skin care product lines throw at consumers. Even mainstream companies have gotten in on the act (L’Oreal actually advertises their Everpure hair-care line claiming it is better because it doesn’t contain sulfates, which is a bunch of crap because all of their other products from Garnier to Kerastase contain sulfates. Why didn’t they stop selling those if sulfate-free is so much better?).

Let me just say this up front: skin care products are not killing us, causing cancer, or any other dire condition. Women have no more higher incidence of cancer then men (breast cancer doesn’t count as men don’t have estrogen in the first place and women don’t get prostate cancer for obvious reasons as well). The insane, misleading information about mineral oil, petrolatum, parabens, and even toluene in nail polishes is just bizarre. The research doesn’t exist to prove any harm is being done, not even remotely. Not to mention natural and organic products contain problematic ingredients that effect the environment and our health as well.
I’m not sure how this all got started but the natural organic fanatics want you to be very afraid and, of course, only buy their products because they are pure and won’t harm you (forget the fact that there isn’t any research showing their products are effective and that many aren’t all that natural in the first place). Even more obnoxious is their blatant hypocrisy. I am fairly certain almost every single owner, employee, or lobbyist for any organic/natural cosmetic company in the world uses computers, talks on cell phones, drives cars, flies in airplanes, mostly lives in cities, and myriad other things that are far more problematic for the environment and health then any cosmetic could ever be. Breathing auto exhaust fumes and adding to landfills with outdated cell phones and computers (and all manner of outdated electronics) are where the concern should be, not the cleanser or moisturizer you are using.

But back to skin care. I want to remind all of you that I have a ton of research on my web site about all this, including these links:

If you want to send this rational, documented information to your friends and family that would go a long way to helping them make better decisions about what skin care and makeup products to buy. Right now I am just overwhelmed and the voice of reason is drowned out by the endless garbage (brain pollution) the natural/organic cosmetic industry can’t help spilling into the minds of women like an oil slick that can’t be cleaned up. Just in case you’re still not willing to believe that cosmetics aren’t killing us, below are some rational, voice-of-reason quotes from respected sources.

“FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens.”
Food and Drug Administration

“[The 2004 Darbre Study] did not prove that parabens cause breast tumors. The authors of this study did not analyze healthy breast tissue or tissues from other areas of the body and did not demonstrate that parabens are found only in cancerous tissue.”
National Cancer Institute

“There is no sound scientific evidence that cosmetics as they are typically used cause cancer.”
“Parabens have a long history of safe use and have been specifically recognized as safe by the FDA.”
American Council on Science and Health

“… The technical accuracy of the initial reports [linking parabens to cancer] have come under challenge,” noted Sandra Porter, Clariant. “Recent reports published and available in the public domain indicate that there is no conclusive evidence of harmful effects from parabens in cosmetics at typical usage levels.”

Household and Personal Products Industry Magazine

I also want to share this letter I received from a physician on this issue; it succinctly sums up the manipulation we suck up like water in the desert without any benefit:

First of all thank you for speaking up about a topic that has been very important to me for a long time. In fact I created a blog simply to address this issue:
My frustration with philosophies such as this stem from the fact that I treat patients with breast cancer on a daily basis, and am very cognizant of what is good or not for them. I have spent a long time researching the paraben issue and found the same conclusions as you have. Such negative, panic provoking tactics against ingredients has almost become a norm for a number of “big beauty” marketers. Unfortunately, it works on consumers who may be unaware of the whole picture, and in many cases do not have access to in-depth scientific facts. To condemn an ingredient just because it might, possibly, might, remotely mimic, seem like, maybe etc. is incredibly unjustified. The evidence linking paraben absorption via skin care products, mimicking estrogen and in turn affecting breast cancer rates is extremely farfetched at best. I suspect your chances of taking in estrogen like substances is higher from food intake of animal and plant products, such as cow’s milk! But, obviously certain negative marketing, using scant scientific findings and manipulating it is much more potent at molding the human mind than presenting the facts. I applaud you on your ability to go against the flow and try to reach the truth.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Oh Rosie...Save Your Skin!!!

I just read this post in E! Online's blog this morning, which was disturbing...

"The pot-stirring talker told Rachael Ray earlier this month that she "lives to tan" and declared 'exposure to the sun isn't dangerous.'

Ohhhh Rosie...oh Rosie. ::shaking my head in pure disappointment::

We all know that unprotected sun exposure = bad, bad, bad - but we inevitably want to look healthy and "sun-kissed" (i.e. we think a tan means healthy).  I too went through my childhood and teenage years completely frying myself to get the much desired golden tan (spring break anyone??).

However, what I know now makes me want to scream at and kick my younger self (all info below is courtesty of
  • Tanning is the skin's reaction to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.  When skin is exposed to UV rays, cells called melanocytes produce the brown pigment melanin, which darkens the cells of the epidermis.  This darkening of the skin cells is the skin's natural – if imperfect – defense against further damage from UV radiation.

  •  The sun's UV rays damage the DNA of the skin's epidermal cells, triggering enzymes that race to repair the damage.  However, these enzymes do not always repair the DNA successfully, and all this unrepaired damage can lead to mutations that increase the risk of skin cancer.  Also, repeated unprotected sun exposure can cause photoaging – wrinkles, sagging skin, and spots associated with sun damage.

  • By the 1990's, scientists knew that UVA exacerbates the cancer-causing effects of UVB, and is the main wavelength behind photoaging. Recently, an Australian-U.S. study found that UVA may be more carcinogenic than UVB. It penetrates more deeply and causes more genetic damage in the skin cells (keratinocytes) where most skin cancers arise. The National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization now designate both UVA and UVB as causes of cancer.

  • Darker skin does offer greater protection than light skin against sunburn and skin cancer. However, that applies only to people with naturally darker skin. Tanning, like sunburns, attacks the skin's DNA, producing genetic defects that may cause skin cancer.

  • Both [tanning and sunburns] are dangerous, because both result from DNA damage to the skin cells. It is true that sunburn has been directly linked to melanoma – one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence, or five sunburns total over the course of one’s life, more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.  It is usually thought that lifetime sun exposure is responsible for increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, while both intense, intermittent sun exposure – the pattern that is traditionally linked to melanoma – and lifetime exposure are believed to be involved in the development of basal cell carcinoma.  However, studies have also shown a marked increase in melanoma incidence in people who have developed either squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma. Scientists are still trying to determine the exact exposure pattern behind the development of the different types of skin cancer, but it is safe to say that both burning and tanning play major roles in skin cancer.

  • Tanning salon owners say tanning machines are safer than outdoor tanning for two reasons: 1) they mainly use UVA rays, and 2) they offer more "controlled" UV exposure. However, we know now that UVA is a carcinogen, and studies have revealed that tanning salons frequently exceed "safe" UV limits. Study after study has shown that sunbed tanning increases the risk of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.
Unless you'd like to look like this woman*, PLEASE follow these rules:

  • Wear sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) any time you're going to be outside - even if you're going to be driving in your car (UVA rays can penetrate glass).  A higher SPF is always a good idea for your face.  Make sure to apply 1 oz. (equivalent of half of a shot glass) to your body and 1 tablespoon to your face at least 30 min before you step out the door. Also, reapply every two hours or after swimming/profusely sweating
  • If you're going to be sitting in the direct sunlight for an extended period of time (beach, picnic, etc.), cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.

  • Invest in some self tanner if you want a deep, golden tan (there are really good ones on the market these days) or get a spray tan (much cheaper than future cancer treatments)

  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.

  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
 Remember, beautiful skin is in -- not leathery, scary tanned skin. :-)

**Photo courtesy of

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 3, 2009

From "Good Skincare Habits Gone Bad" (with my personal caveat)

I happened upon the below article via Baumann Cosmetic and Research Institute's Twitter, which is from  While it is a fairly good primer for anyone  who is a little clueless as to how to properly care for their skin, I have just a *few* reservations about some of the suggestions, based on my reading of Paula Begoun's The Original Beauty Bible.  I'm listing them below so you're aware:

However, based on my recent reading and research via Beautypedia, I disagree with one little item in the article:
  • "Like your body gets bored with the same exercise — putting a lid on progress, slowing muscle building or weight loss — your skin, too, gets used to the same products, so there’s little to no improvement" -- This statement makes it sound like if you find a product that works really, really well for your skin, it will just stop working after a while.  This is not true.  What is true is what this section goes on to say, which is that your skin will change from season-to-season (more dry in the winter vs. more oily in the summer, depending on your skin type) and even from week-to-week based on hormonal fluctuations.  If you find a product that works well for you and it continues to work even when seasons, hormones or other factors change KEEP USING IT
Happy reading!!

by team
You may feel like you’re doing everything right with your skin, sticking to a strict regimen and following the typically good-for-you habits you’ve read diligently about. But these normally great skincare habits can harbor a shady side. Learn which habits may be faulty and the easy ways you can tweak them for better, healthier skin.
  1. Habit: Adhering to the same skincare routine. Having a daily routine of cleansing and moisturizing your face is vital for maintaining healthy skin. Skimp on that routine and you can end up with clogged pores, breakouts and thirsty skin. So no wonder you keep a tight ship when it comes to your skin.
  2. How it can go bad: While consistency is key with any regimen, it can also lead to lackluster, dry skin. Like your body gets bored with the same exercise — putting a lid on progress, slowing muscle building or weight loss — your skin, too, gets used to the same products, so there’s little to no improvement. What you can do: Pay attention to your skin. For starters, you may need a higher concentration of ingredients. If a topical treatment with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide isn’t doing much for your acne any longer, look for a formula with 5 percent. If your skin continues to look dull after using a cleanser with 15 percent glycolic acid, go up to 20 percent. You also might need to adjust your routine according to the season. Cooler months — with their chilly temperatures and strong winds — call for more hydrating products, even if your skin is an oil slick in the summer. See what other changes you can make for fall here. To target roughness and dryness, try a serum with retinol to accelerate exfoliation and thin dead skin along with a multi-action day cream with salicylic acid to smooth roughness, according to Ladies Home Journal. If you’d like to use these formulas, which contain many active ingredients, pick up a mild cleanser. The magazine suggests using Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleanser.
  3. Habit: Being too gentle. Is your face extra sensitive or mostly dry? You may be afraid to irritate your skin, so you opt for mild products and skip the exfoliation step.
  4. How it can go bad: Never exfoliating your skin (or exfoliating too little) can result in a buildup of dead skin cells, which leads to clogged pores, acne and a dull-looking complexion. This buildup doesn’t help with your products either. Products stay on skin's surface, unable to penetrate the skin. This prevents you from experiencing their full benefits. The same goes for mild products, which may not be potent enough to effectively treat skin concerns. What you can do: If you have dry or sensitive skin, exfoliate once a week. For oilier complexions, exfoliate three times a week. Still concerned about irritation? Like we mentioned above, try mixing milder products with more potent formulas. Or look for soothing ingredients, like lavender and chamomile, in your treatments. When nothing seems to work — your skin doesn’t look any better and irritation is a continuous concern, which may be a symptom of skin conditions like eczema — consult a dermatologist, who can help you create a custom routine that’ll be both effective and gentle on your skin.
  5. Habit: Relying exclusively on organic products. Using organic ingredients on your skin has its advantages. If the product is labeled “organic,” it contains 95 percent organic ingredients, meaning that it must “follow the same rules that foods do,” writes dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., on her Yahoo! Health blog, The Skin Guru. She adds, “These rules require manufacturers to avoid using prohibited pesticides and fertilizers, and employ positive soil building, conservation, manure management, and crop rotation practices.” Organic skincare also strives to avoid ingredients that may be potentially harmful to people, animals and the environment, writes Dr. Baumann.
  6. How it can go bad: It’s common for consumers to assume that organic formulas are inherently gentler on the skin. But that’s a big misconception. Some organic skincare contains fruit that can irritate the skin and trigger allergic reactions, writes Julyne Derrick, About’s beauty expert. Natural essential oils like rosemary, bergamot and peppermint can be irritating to sensitive complexions, Dr. Baumann tells WebMD. She also says that coconut oil may cause acne. Sticking solely to organic products also leads you to miss out on top-notch traditional ingredients that can truly improve your skin (think over-the-counter retinol and retinoids, which offer a bounty of beauty benefits). What you can do: Instead of focusing on organic or non-organic, skip the fancy claims and go straight to the label for the details. Not sure how to read a label? See our five rules here. Consider incorporating a variety of organic and conventional products for a comprehensive, effective routine.
  7. Habit: Applying sunscreen — but not enough. Sunscreen is a vital part of your everyday routine. It shields skin from UV damage, protecting from premature aging, sunburn and skin cancer. How it can go bad: Sunscreen can give you a false sense of security. You may think you’re fully protected from the sun when your skin is actually vulnerable. The number one issue with sunscreen is not applying it correctly. Secondly, many people don’t realize that sunscreen isn’t enough to protect from UV rays, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Does that mean you should toss it altogether? No way!
    What you can do: Reevaluate your use. Are you applying enough — at least a shot-glass-worth — and often — every two hours, or sooner after sweating or swimming? Getting the right SPF? For daily use, wear sunscreen with SPF 15, at a minimum. If you plan on being outdoors for 20-30 minutes, wear at least SPF 30, reports MedicineNet. In addition to applying sunscreen, the Skin Cancer Foundation suggests these sun-savvy tips:

    • Avoid outdoor and indoor tanning.
    • Opt for the shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
    • Examine your skin once a month from head-to-toe.
    • See your dermatologist for an annual skin screening.
    • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block UV rays. 

  8. Habit: Using too much product. We tend to think that more product equals greater efficacy. If a dime-sized amount of moisturizer is good, then a dollop must be better. If exfoliating once a week helps to slough off dead skin cells, then using a scrub three times is best.
  9. How it can go bad: Applying too much moisturizer to your face doesn’t saturate your skin in moisture. Quite the opposite, it can create a thick film that stays on your skin and clogs pores. Too much of an acne treatment can irritate and dry out the skin, making it churn out more oil. Using more than a dime-sized amount of any scrub (no matter how gentle) can abrade the skin and create a dull and rough complexion. What you can do: So if using too little and using too much product are no-nos, then what’s a gal to do? Your best bet is to follow the product’s instructions or ask a dermatologist. A good rule of thumb with any product is to use a pea-sized amount. For moisturizer to absorb better, apply it to damp skin (within three minutes of washing your skin).
  10. Habit: Not wasting products. We’ve been taught to eat everything off our plates as long as we can remember and never ever to waste anything. So naturally, you refuse to squander a beauty product, especially if it’s a pricey one.
  11. How it can go bad: Using products past their prime can irritate your skin and even give you an infection. Cosmetics, such as mascara, become a breeding ground for bacteria. Once finger touches product that bacteria transfers to your skin. What you can do: Learn when products expire, and pitch them when they’re past due. As sad as it is to part with a good (and pricey) product, it’s sadder when your skin is unhealthy, looks irritated and blemish-stricken or suffers an allergic reaction. Another option is to take simple steps to extend your products’ shelf life, such as:
    • Avoid sharing makeup.
    • Keep cosmetics and skincare in cool, dark places (not the bathroom!).
    • Don’t use fingers to touch the makeup directly.
    • Wash hands before applying any beauty products.
    • Don’t use makeup if you have any sort of infection (such as an eye infection or mouth sore).
The bottom line
Remember that your skin changes throughout the seasons and throughout the years. Also, keep in mind that just because a product works for your best friend doesn’t mean it’ll work for you (even if her skin type is similar). The key to great skin is letting it do all the talking, while you listen carefully. Let your skin tell you when it’s time to switch products, exfoliate more or less and see a dermatologist.