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Face First: Resources on Cosmetics


Peggy Carroll., Digital ID 1614509, New York Public Library

In the film The Truth About Cats & Dogs there is a scene where Janeane Garafalo’s character Abby is at a cosmetics counter in a department store. Abby has been dragged there by her new friend and total opposite Noelle, played by Uma Thurman. The salesperson warns Abby of the dire condition her skin is in and how she can take action to counter her “huge pore” situation. Abby quips that it sounds more like the salesperson is planning to stage a military coup rather than advise her on her skin.

The scene ends with Abby’s character in tears. She is overly made up by Las Vegas standards, and yells at Noelle that “this is what they do” while clutching a large bag of cosmetic products she succumbs to purchasing. It was easy as a kid to find the humor in that scene. Now that I am a grown up lady trying to stage a skin regimen coup of my very own, I realize how easily I could fall into Abby’s predicament. There are so many products, promises and pretty bottles. What to choose? How do I become a savvy consumer and not let desperation lead me to drop a pay check on barrels of "Hope in a Jar" (an actual product that I have tried)?

Allure magazine famously has their Best of Beauty lists. I rely on Allure's beauty experts to recommend products that range from a Saks Fifth Avenue splurge to what is readily available at the local CVS. For example, every day I wash my face with Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Cleanser since I'm somehow now at an adorable age where zits and wrinkles are both equal concerns.

Explore the latest issue of Allure or the October Best of Beauty 2011 issue, which featured 193 winning products and 11 Hall of Famers, from home with your active New York Public Library card.

Let's discuss what happens when our aesthetic pursuits do have disastrous results. It could be when we begin to resemble this or that new lip gloss causes a tingling not mentioned on the packaging. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a Household Products Database. Visit the database and click on the Personal Care section to access a handy resource that will provide information on a variety of products, their chemical ingredients and very importantly their health rating. If a few products cause you a similar reaction it may be probable they all have the same chemical ingredient. The Personal Care database can help you pinpoint the chemical culprit, but of course it is always best to seek the advice of a medical professional.

You may also want to check out Paula Begoun's Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. This is a Mom pick. If her skin is any indication we should all be eagerly anticipating the ninth edition of this cosmetic's consumer advocacy tome, which is due out on October 16th, 2012. Begoun is known as "The Cosmetics Cop" offering not only a guide of what products to buy, but an explanation on ingredients and tips on skin care.

I can spend an inordinate amount of time inside a Sephora enthralled by how, for example, many eyebrow styling gels may exist. Mark Tungate's Branded Beauty: How Marketing Changed the Way We Look provides a history on the evolution of the cosmetics industry and just how lucrative it is.

Do not permit anyone to convince you that these are vain or frivolous pursuits. Jean Kerr said it best in her book The Snake Has All the Lines "I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want — an adorable pancreas?"

Further Reading


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Styled by Literature

This is a great post for all interested in personal beauty. NYPL is also hosting an event Friday, June 22, 2012, 5:30 p.m. at Mid-Manhattan Library featuring Literary inspired makeovers. Link to for more information.

Truth about Cats and Dogs is

Truth about Cats and Dogs is a fave film and that scene so resonates with me. I love Sephora but I find myself terrified of asking for help because I am afraid of sales people trying to load me up with expensive stuff I don't need! I have a great skin care regimen tho - FRESH soy cleanser!

Interesting post, but I wish

Interesting post, but I wish it had also mentioned some resources for learning more about dangerous chemicals in makeup that has very complete lists ( and animal testing in the cosmetics industry ( and I adore makeup, but there's a way to look amazing and be responsible at the same time.

Thank you

Thank you for the feedback and providing those great links. I completely agree that it is very important to be an informed consumer. I personally try to always seek out cruelty free products, thanks again for these links! :)

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