How safe is your daily beauty and hygiene routine? What
about the products your kids use? Read on as Julie
Gabriel, author of
"The Green Beauty Guide: Your Essential Resource to
Organic and Natural Skin Care, Hair Care, Makeup and
Fragrances," reveals what the makers of your
favorite shampoos, lotions, lipsticks and more beauty
essentials don't want you to know about the safety, cost
and effectiveness of their products. In the pop-up photo
gallery, find Gabriel's top ten beauty commandments.
Continue reading Gabriel's best savvy shopping tips,
below the photo gallery.
Thou Shalt Not... Buy beauty products
that contain controversial ingredients. The
culprits include: formaldehyde, phenols,
sodium laureth sulfate, coal tar, toxic
dyes, and synthetic fragrances.
Ten Commandments of
"The Green Beauty Guide", by Julie
Here are the "Ten Commandments of Green Beauty."
Memorize them and repeat them every time you
crave that new shimmery pink blush, dreamily
squeeze and sniff a flower-scented lotion at the
beauty counter, or read about a celebrity
must-have hair mousse in a glossy magazine. Once
you learn these commandments, you will gain a
better perspective on what you are really paying
for at cosmetic counters, and whether any of
this can hurt your skin and put you at risk for
a serious medical condition in the future.
Believe that you have to
spend a lot of money on organic beauty products.
Many inexpensive natural cosmetic lines have
wonderful products that perform just as well as
expensive ones because most plant extracts,
vitamins, and minerals are not exclusive to one
company. High-quality ingredients do not
necessarily cost a lot more; many cosmetic
companies buy ingredients from the same farm or
wholesale supplier. There are many organic
beauty manufacturers who grow their own
ingredients, too. The only difference may be the
concentration of these plant juices and
extracts, and in the next chapters you will
learn how to choose products that really
Buy cosmetics based solely
on advertising claims or celebrity endorsements.
Very few celebrities actually use the products
they advertise. Neither do models whose faces
are used in the ads, no matter what models say
in interviews. Read the label, scan the
ingredients list online using the Skin Deep
(www.ewg.com) tool for chemical hazards, read
online reviews, and then decide whether this
product is worth your money or not.
Believe that just because
a cosmetic product is called "natural" it is
generally safer. Cosmetics may claim to be
"natural" or made with "organic" ingredients,
but may still include paraben and formaldehyde
preservatives, synthetic fragrances, phthalates,
or other controversial ingredients.
Believe there is such a
thing as a magic beauty bullet. There are no
secret ingredients that can instantly cure all
your skin's woes, but there are many new,
effective active ingredients that can do wonders
for your skin.
Compare your skin or hair
to those of celebrities. And then spend
hours moaning over a pimple, a wrinkle, or a
stray lock. All celebrities are humans with
their flaws and insecurities, and their
picture-perfect skin is not due to the use of
some secret potion but rather skillful
hairstyling, makeup artistry, and computer
Buy beauty products that
contain controversial ingredients. The culprits
include: formaldehyde, phenols, sodium laureth
sulfate, coal tar, toxic dyes, and synthetic
Share or abuse your beauty
products. Don't borrow mascara or lipstick,
keep the jar of moisturizer open, lick the tip
of your eyeliner, apply face cream with dirty
hands, dilute shampoo with water -- simply put,
contaminate your beauty products and shorten
their life span. Never use beauty products when
their "best before" date is overdue.
Believe that you need
every kind of moisturizer out there. That
you need a special moisturizer for hands and
another one for the rest of your body; that you
need an eye cream and a separate face cream and
a really cute neck serum; that you cannot use
baby bath gel to cleanse your face; that you
should have a different sunscreen lotion for
each part of your body. In other words, do not
let smart marketers manipulate you. Less is
more, especially when it comes to organic
formulations. From an oat scrub to a honey mask,
the best things in beauty come incredibly cheap,
and you don't need to spend tons of money to
look great and be healthy.
Believe that a celebrity
endorsement makes it better. If a famous
doctor, chemist, dermatologist, yoga guru,
hairstylist, or movie star created the formula,
it would not mean a world of difference. Lots of
dermatologists, biologists, herbalists, and even
aerospace engineers are involved in whipping up
beauty products. It's the juice that counts, not
the bottle, as Aubrey Hampton, the pioneer of
organic beauty, used to say, and your skin
doesn't care whose name is on the packaging.
Read the ingredients list, ask smart questions
about the concentration of particular
ingredients, check reviews, be skeptical, and
take everything with a grain of sea salt.
Beauty Expert Reveals Hidden Dangers
AOL Health: Your book
reveals that a hidden cancer-causing petrochemical has
been found at high levels in babies' and adults'
personal care products. Why isn't it included on the
Gabriel: 1,4-Dioxane is not an ingredient that
manufacturers knowingly add to shampoos or baby washes.
It forms during a chemical process called ethoxylation,
which makes chemicals less harsh and more "gentle."
According to the Organic Consumer Association,
ethoxylation is used to produce such common cosmetic
ingredients as "myreth," "Oleth," "laureth," "Ceteareth,"
any other "eth," "PEG," "polyethylene," "polyethylene
glycol," "polyoxyethylene," or anything that sounds like
"oxynol" in the ingredients list. Some of the "organic"
brands found to contain 1,4-Dioxane include JASON Pure
Natural & Organic, Giovanni Organic Cosmetics, Kiss My
Face and Nature's Gate Organics. No one has ever tested
conventional skincare products for the presence of
1,4-Dioxane. I am afraid that such findings would be
even more shocking.
AOL Health: In your book, you say that about 90
percent of cosmetic ingredients have never been analyzed
for health impacts by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review
Board. Why is that?
Gabriel: Unless a manufacturer comes up with a
potion that dramatically alters the physiological
functions of the skin, it is considered a beauty product
-- something innocuous, harmless. But our skin is very
capable of absorbing everything that touches its
surface, and many cosmetic products today contain
penetration enhancers that virtually push the chemicals
into the skin. Most often, the Cosmetic Ingredient
Review board analyzes the isolated chemical on animals
over a relatively short period of time. We humans are
exposed to a whopping amount of various chemicals every
day over decades. Many of these chemicals are stored in
our fatty tissue. No one can predict how these chemicals
interact with each other and what "Molotov cocktail" we
are brewing inside after 10 or 20 years of diligent
AOL Health: You site a study that found that of the
popular cosmetics tested, 80 percent contained
phthalates -- which weren't listed on the label. How is
Gabriel: As chemicals, phthalates are known as
gender-benders -- hormone mimickers that are capable of
messing up our hormonal balance even at low doses. This
puts us at higher risk for
obsesity and hormone-related cancers such as
prostate cancers. Sadly, we are exposed to
phthalates from a number of sources, including
artificially fragranced skincare and makeup, air
fresheners, car interiors, plastic packaging, wires --
even MP3 player accessories. While itís virtually
impossible to eliminate all sources of phthalate
exposure, we can still do a lot. For example... even I,
with my dedication to using all green and natural, when
it comes to skincare and makeup, canít resist Cool Water
by Davidoff and Pleasures by Estťe Lauder. But Ö I donít
spray the chemical fragrances all over my body. I apply
one or two spritzes on my clothes.
AOL Health: What is the danger of using
Gabriel: Aluminum is another gender-bender... it
mimics the action of human hormones and triggers various
receptors associated with the sex hormone
estrogen. Aluminum salt (potassium alum) in
"rock" deodorants isn't any safer. Luckily, there are
lots of very effective deodorants without aluminum
available today. I've been test-driving quite a few, and
I currently use Tom's of Maine roll-on deodorants, which
are quite effective.
AOL Health: What are some easy tips for understanding
beauty product ingredients?
Gabriel: Always look at which ingredient comes
second in the ingredients list. Most often, water will
be listed first, and water is water... Then scan the
label down to the end of the list. As a rule, all "nasties"
are listed at the end of the list. Some people assume
that if something appears at the end of the list, only a
very small quantity of a chemical was used. According to
current legislation, ingredients that are used in
concentration less than 1 percent can be listed in
whatever order. But if you think about it, 1 percent is
quite a lot. One percent is the equivalent of a teaspoon
per bottle of shampoo or body lotion. Imagine that you
rub a teaspoonful of something potentially
cancer-causing all over your body. Does it
make you feel healthy and glamorous?
AOL Health: Is the generic version of a beauty
product as good as the brand name version?
Gabriel: It all depends on the ingredients.
Active ingredients are rarely tied to one single brand,
and there's a big chance that a manufacturer of a $200
moisturizer is sourcing the "magical" peptide
from the same lab as the maker of a generic anti-aging
cream. I often find that generic versions of popular
skincare contain fewer
chemical ingredients, which makes them
potentially less irritating.
AOL Health: What does it mean when products contain
the words "natural" or "organic"?
Gabriel: The word "natural" when it comes to
cosmetic labels is pretty meaningless, unless it means a
transparent, not-wearing-any-makeup coverage. You can
take a few drops of aloe vera, add them to a mix of
petrochemicals and preservatives, and it warrants the
use of "natural" on the label. The word "organic" is
very popular today. To make sure that it has any
meaning, check out the ingredients list. How many
ingredients are actually certified organic? The truly
organic product will contain at least 70 percent organic
ingredients, not counting water.
AOL Health: What are some best practices for staying
safe and healthy, when buying and using beauty products?
Gabriel: When you buy a product in a drugstore or
a supermarket, choose the one that contains as few
ingredients as possible. When you find something that
works for you, buy in bulk and store the loot in a cool,
dark place. I know it may sound unpractical, but making
your own beauty products is really the only way to make
sure you know what goes into your shampoo or body
lotion. Youíd be amazed how easy it is to make your own
body lotion and... you will be saving tons of money,
AOL Health: What else does the beauty industry keep
hidden from the consumer?
Gabriel: As a member of a beauty industry, Iím
going to spill the beans: Ingredients of the average $50
cream cost only around $1. Period. The rest of your
money pays for the pretty jar, the lovely cardboard box,
the advertising and the celebrity endorsements. This
shocking gap between the price we pay and the real cost
of the product prompted me to start making my own
skincare. All of my cleansers, toners, moisturizers and
anti-aging treatments are homemade, and my
skin has never looked better.