Beauty is not only skin-deep, and neither are the makeup products women put on their faces.
A study issued by the Environmental Health Perspectives in October 2016 showed teenage girls who participated noticed a drop in their chemical levels when they refrained from using “endocrine-disrupting” products. These girls experienced a reduction in chemical levels related to specific hormones of 27 to 45 percent after three days.
Noryang Gray, a makeup artist located in Utah County, said women should be aware of what they put on their faces because every skin type is different.
“It is very important to know what you are putting on your skin because there are things that can cause allergies and even cancer,” Gray said. “Just like when your doctor tells you to wear SPF before you go out to prevent skin cancer, what you put on your skin can damage you or protect you.”
BYU geography student Lexi Patterson sells makeup products for LipSense, for the company SeneGence and regularly does friends’ makeup on their wedding days. Patterson said she looks into how products will affect her and “how other people’s skin is reacting” before she makes a purchase, even though she doesn’t read the ingredients of makeup.
If harmful toxins became apparent in the makeup she was using, Patterson said she would find out about the effects it was having on others, and if she was seeing any reactions herself.
“I would probably need to figure out what it was doing to other people,” Patterson said. “If it caused long-lasting issues, I would switch to something else.”
Product reviews are important, according to Gray, but consumers should still be aware of the ingredients contained in makeup products.
“It is always important to read the reviews so you can see the quality of the product and how happy or upset it has made certain customers,” Gray said. “All skin types are different and it is helpful to read reviews but always be in the lookout of what the product is made of.”
Harli McShinsky is a certified makeup artist currently studying makeup design at BYU. She warned against assuming makeup is safe just because it is a popular product.
“It is important to know what we are putting on our skin, it’s the largest organ in our body and what we put on our skin can potentially harm our insides as well,” McShinsky said.
Two chemicals Gray cautioned against are butylated hydroxytulene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which are commonly used as preservatives. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics describes these butylated compounds as being found in “a variety of personal care products” including lip products, hair products, makeup, perfumes, deodorants and sunscreen.
A report issued by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded BHT is safe in cosmetics in low concentrations.
BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” based on evidence from animal studies, according to a report published by the National Toxicology Program in 2016. Exposure to BHA has caused benign and malignant tumors in the stomachs of rats, but there is no current data to support the connection between human stomach cancer and BHA.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also lists titanium dioxide, carbon black, polytetrafluoroethylene (PFTE), talc, and silica as just a few of the chemicals to avoid. The campaign’s website also includes a chart which summarizes the chemical policy details of the “Big Seven” companies including L’Oréal, Johnson & Johnson, Avon, and Revlon. Each parent company holds different stances on a variety of chemicals including BHA, parabens and formaldehyde.
McShinsky recommended the brands Jane Iredale and Inika cosmetics as brands women can turn to when looking to avoid harmful chemicals.
Gray advised women who are looking for healthy beauty products take a more natural route.
“Make sure you exfoliate constantly and you drink plenty of water. I use baking soda-like scrub to exfoliate myself. It makes your skin dry but make sure you always exfoliate,” Gray said. “Also a healthy diet is always good because your face is a projection of what you eat and what you drink.”