Posted by: molander | March 30, 2010

Saving Money on Cosmetics

Another health-related issue is skin care. (Remember from elementary science that skin is the largest organ of the body.) Keeping our skin in good condition is essential. Everyone wants to avoid spending money unnecessarily and this could be one of those areas you haven’t thought about. As I pointed out in another post, saying you can’t afford quality food probably means a good look at your budget is in order. Maybe these sites below can offer help.

Cosmetics and Skin Care

For women, this is one area where overspending is EASY to do! We all know that the chance of a product making us look “years younger” is slim to none, yet we still hang onto everlasting hope that the very next product will be the one! And certainly, the more it costs, the better it must be, right??  The old adage “you get what you pay for” rings in our ears! Well, let me introduce you to Paula Begoun.

You probably already know her since she’s been on every major talk show, news show, and all over print media but in case you haven’t, she’s known for her reviews of skin care and make up products. Her mantra has always been that “expensive is not always better than inexpensive” and does her best to educate us about ingredients to avoid. (Many of which can be endocrine disruptors and carcinogens, btw.) After years of writing endless product reviews, people began to ask her to develop her own products so they didn’t have to read and learn! Those you can find on her site but that’s not the best part.

Check Out Your Favorites

All her books and DVDs are located here but my favorite is Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me. It’s a HUGE, big, thick book with all the products she reviews. With the smiley faces and money sign symbols, it’s easy to see at a glance if an item is overpriced (sometimes we’re paying for marketing or fancy packaging) or is one she considers a “Paula’s Pick” which is an appropriately priced, quality product. Each item also contains clear explanations of why they earned their particular rating.

No More Books for Me

Now the big, thick book is online which is SO much better because it’s searchable! Enter your search term in the box (“cleanser” or “mascara” or “Clinique” etc.) or select from the master brand list. I love being able to search “foundation” and get a list of all the ones they’ve reviewed. I can sort by rating, price, brand, skin type, whatever! How convenient is that? Note that this is a subscription service. ($24.95 for one year of access with discounts for renewal. I got $10 off for my last renewal.) AND there’s an iPhone app coming out in a few months which is perfect for reference in the store.

More to the Story

While Paula does a great job steering us away from dangerous chemicals and not-so-dangerous skin irritants, her analysis doesn’t always align with the Environmental Working Group‘s reviews known as Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. Their scientists do a  great job reviewing just about every product on the market including children’s shampoos and lotions. (Actually, there’s a lot of emphasis on children’s products since their bodies are the most vulnerable.) HOWEVER, it’s important to note that the researchers at EWG are strictly concerned with safety and don’t care if a product “goes on smoothly” or “lasts all day.”


Sometimes I wish I’d never learned all this stuff but because… well… ignorance is bliss. I asked for it – and now I’ve got it. I went looking for ways to reduce my family’s risk of heart disease and cancer (all over my side of the family, btw) and this stuff just keeps coming at me! Confession: Sometimes I ignore it because it gets to be too much. Then I remember that with knowledge comes responsibility and I get back in the saddle.

The science can’t be ignored as much as the government would like it to be. (Read The Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O’Brien if you need an eye opener but do so with a box of tissues.) Many, many of the everyday products we use are known carcinogens. IF the products were properly tested and not recommended, the reports were often swept under the table… or skewed… or modified with “spin”. So the best we can do is educate ourselves.

What do I do?

I do the best I can. Ideally, I’ll take the time to search out a product on EWG and then check out Paula’s reviews of those acceptable safe choices. Do I do this every time? No… because it takes time. My long term goal is to come up with a master list of products we use that just has to be updated from time to time. [sigh]

Here’s my line of thinking: Anything I do better than I WAS doing is an improvement, right? And each improvement lessens our risks to some extent, right? So I’ll keep pluggin’ and prayin’ and hoping people will understand the gravity of what they put IN and ON their bodies… especially the people I love but hopefully everyone.


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