breaking news (that even I barely believe)!

I quit wearing make-up today.  Whaat?  (I know, yikes.)  I realize it’s crazy, but here’s what’s crazier.  According to my nonfiction book of the month, The Virtuous Consumer by Leslie Garrett, “89 percent of cosmetics contain one or more untested ingredients.”  Excuse me?

A little trip through cyberspace led me to this startling discovery: of the four products I use on a daily basis, three scored a risk factor of 5 or 6 on a scale where 1 is safest and 10 is most risky.  We’re talking about ingredients that build up in the body over time (“persistence and bioaccumulation,” they call it) and are linked, or potentially linked, to everything from cancer to birth defects.

As scary as that is, Garrett does a great job of coming across as thoughtful and reasonable, not media-hyped or Gaia-crazed.  She’s an enlightened woman seeking to enlighten the rest of us.  After hearing her out, I decided that no matter how big my next zit is, it can’t be worse than cancer.  Or harming my endocrine system–because, as women, I’m pretty sure all of us already know we don’t need to mess with our hormones if we can avoid it.

Even if all this linkage to health issues is speculative, unsound, or worse, I decided I’m just not willing to take that risk for vanity.  Here’s what I had in my make-up bag…yesterday.

Almay Smart Shade Smart Balance foundation.  Closest I found was the Smart Shade, which scored 5 out of 10.

Sue Devitt blush scored a 6 out of 10.

Covergirl eyeshadow scored a 6 out of 10.  The larger compact is Set brand, which I couldn’t find.

Covergirl waterproof mascara, a 5; and C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint, probably a 2.  (Based on Mentha Lip Shine’s score.)

Only the lip gloss remains.  The rest of it lies in the bathroom trash.  I’ll admit I’m a little sad about it.  A little scared too.  What if I wake up looking (or just feeling) like crap?  It happens; let’s be honest!  Well…I’ll cross that bridge.  Bare-faced.

I wouldn’t mind discovering a wholesome brand and going back to basic make-up.  Even a bit of blush can do wonders for my tired face some days.  But until I’m sure I’m not soaking up nasties through my skin, I’ll try to be patient.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear of any homemade cosmetics you’ve tried.  I’ve found recipes for deodorant, lotion, and lip balm.  For several months now I’ve been using the oil cleansing method for my evening face wash.  I read about it in Tsh Oxenreider’s book Organized Simplicity, but obviously you’re on an internet-accessible device of some kind right now, so I refer you to her blog.

I use extra virgin olive oil and castor oil.  I already had the glass bottle from a couple years ago when Hubby and I brewed homemade vanilla extract for Christmas presents.  (This bottle had never been used.)

I used about 1/3 olive oil…

…and topped off with castor oil.

From the beginning I was satisfied with the cleansing effect; it was only the moisture issue I was unsure of.  My skin is always especially dry in the winter, and I expected this moisture-rich mix to immediately solve that problem.  It didn’t.  I backed off the heat in my rinse cloth–I think I was going too hot at first–and now I follow this cleanse with a moisturizer.  I currently use Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Combination Skin (Skin Deep score = 3), and for now I’m hanging onto it.  But if you have any better ideas, I’m all ears!

Leave a comment


  1. natalie

     /  March 20, 2012

    You should look into organic makeup. I know that some health food stores carry it; probably cost and arm and a leg. But if you wanted to have makeup for a special occasion you could look into how the organic makeup rates. I would be curious to hear what you find out if you do go this route.

    • That’s kind of what I’ve done over the last couple days, but I have to be careful because no law defines what “organic” has to mean in terms of make-up. (Unlike with food.) So I’m trying to sort through hundreds of brands I’ve never even heard of to determine which ones are what they claim to be. Eesh. I’m not terribly worried about the cost since I buy make-up maybe twice a year.

  2. You should talk to your sister-in-law who sells skincare and makeup that doesn’t have all of those carcinogenic and terrible ingredients. She can get you her discount. 😉 (I’ll send you an e-mail.)

    • Ha, ha–hit me up! I actually was just invited to an Arbonne party but I couldn’t find much information in Skin Deep about it.

  3. n.

     /  March 28, 2012

    I try stay away from all makeup and toiletries with parabens for health reasons. I have struggled with a female reproductive disorder for 15 years, and I learned about the connection between health problems in women and the chemicals found in most mainstream cosmetics and toiletries about 7 years ago…since then, I have tried a LOT of different things. Here are good brands: For makeup, I like BareMinerals (their basic foundation is paraben-free). For skin care, I like Weleda or Dr. Hauschka—kinda pricey, but beautiful products, and you don’t have to use a ton. For hair, I like Giovanni. Sunscreen should always be a physical sunscreen (i.e. one that uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to physically block the sun’s rays–Juice Beauty makes a good one, as well as lots of other nice products), rather than a chemical sunscreen (I had one doctor tell me that the chemicals in the sunscreen I used to wear daily on my face for a decade might be why I now have endometriosis…! Sad!) Another great benefif of using natural beauty products is that most of them are not tested on animals.

    The Sephora website allows you to search for natural, paraben-free and organic products. Good luck!

    • Yeah, N., isn’t it crazy to think what effects these things can have? All while we’re oblivious…I know I was, at least. Thanks for the resources; it definitely helps to have guidance on where to start.

  4. I read your “picnic (reprise)” post, and then I read this post, and I have to say: Your skin is so lovely! It seems a shame to make it look different with makeup! I say, keep quitting makeup–your natural features are beautiful. Also: I’ve heard only good things about the oil-cleansing method; I’m afraid to try it only because I know it will add extra steps to my daily maintenance routine….But if the results are so good, it seems like a worthy investment of products and time.

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