You lipstick could be delivering more than just a pretty pout. High-use pucker perfecters could be ingesting unwanted metals, according to a recent study. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health have identified concerning levels of potentially cancer-causing metals in lipstick and lip gloss.
While they are not naming names, the team tested 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly found in drugstores and department stores. They found lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum, and five other metals, some of which were found at levels that could raise potential health concerns. Their findings will be published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Lipstick and lip gloss may pose special risks since they can be ingested or absorbed by the wearer, the study authors note. Average lipstick use was defined as daily ingestion of 24 milligrams of lip makeup per day. Those who slather on their favorite lip color and reapply it before, during, and after every meal or conversation could fall into the high use category of 87 milligrams ingested per day.
According to this calculation, average use of some lipsticks and lip glosses would result in excessive exposure to chromium, which has been linked to stomach cancers. Lipstick lovers who are considered high users could risk overexposure to aluminum, cadmium, and manganese as well. Over time, exposure to high concentrations of manganese has been linked to toxicity in the nervous system. Lead was detected in 24 lip products, but at a concentration that was lower than the acceptable daily intake level
Cadmium exists in different forms, some of which are much more toxic than others. The study was unable to differentiate which form of cadmium was present in the lipsticks and glosses, cautions investigator S. Katharine Hammond, PhD, a professor of environmental health science at University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health.
So what should lipstick lovers do? “If this were my sister or best friend, I don’t know,” she says. “We did not see any pattern like this color was more likely to have more toxic metals than that color so that makes it more complicated.”
High-end users may apply their lipstick a dozen times a day, and should use lipstick or lip gloss judiciously, she says. Children should not play with lipstick and pregnant women may also want to be careful about how much lipstick or gloss they apply, she says.
The issue is one that should be addressed on a legislative level, she says. At present, there are no U.S. standards for metal content in cosmetics. By contrast, the European Union considers cadmium, chromium, and lead to be unacceptable ingredients—at any level—in cosmetic products.
Ruddy, red cheeks are the hallmark of rosacea, but the 16 million people who live with it often have other symptoms too, including red pimples and pustules, flushing and dilated blood vessels, swelling and eye irritation. And it can get worse as you get older.
Rosacea symptoms tend to act up as winter turns to spring due to temperature changes, according to the National Rosacea Society. But getting your rosacea in check could be as easy as 1, 2, and 3.
1. Preventing Flares
Know your rosacea triggers, and take measures to avoid them. For some people, triggers include sun, spicy foods, alcohol, stress, or hot beverages. Keep a diary to get a better handle on yours.
2. Smarter Skincare Shopping
If you have rosacea, be extra careful about anything that goes near your skin. Some products can be friends, but others are foes.
For example, sun exposure is a huge rosacea trigger for many people, but sun protection can also make rosacea worse if you don’t choose the right product. “Choose a non-irritating sunscreen with a physical blocker like zinc oxide or titanium,” suggests Chris G. Adigun, MD, an assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
Want some suggestions? Beauty in the Bag likes Lumixyl MoistureLock Sunscreen SPF 30 ($58) and Neutrogena Pure & Free Liquid Daily Sunblock SPF 50 ($13).
Exercise the same care and caution when choosing your moisturizer and any other skincare products including makeup, says Dr Adigun. Buzz words to look for on labels should include oil-free, non-irritating, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free.
When it comes to cleansers, “avoid anything abrasive including scrubbing agents of any kind,” Adigun says. If you have rosacea, cleansers should be devoid of all things retinoid and salicylic acid. “Choose a gentle cleanser and wash your face with cool water,” she says.
Also, Adigun warns, just say no to chemical peels, facials, and other treatments. No matter how refreshing and luxurious they sound, if you have rosacea, they will make things worse. Guaranteed.
3. Chatting with your Dermatologist
There may be more you can do to treat and beat rosacea. If you have acne-like bumps, for example, antibiotics may help get rid of them. These can be taken orally or applied to the inflamed skin. One of the newest drugs is Oracea from Galderma, which is taken once daily, lauded for having far fewer side effects when compared to high-dose doxycycline.
Lasers, such as gold standard Candela VBeam Perfecta, and Intense pulsed light (IPL) can also really help get the red out. Are they cures? No, but they can make a big difference.
Don’t wait for your next flare. Talk to your dermatologist about your rosacea sooner rather than later.
For more info, visit rosacea.org
Lotions and creams are all very well. But increasingly it’s being proven that you can step up how your skin looks and behaves not only by targeting what you eat and drink, but also by supplementing the skin through liquids and pills.
Nicky Kinnaird, founder of Space NK is convinced this is the future. “Internal beauty is the way forward,” she says. “The external can only go so far.” Hence, her enthusiasm for a new beauty supplement that is taken orally, Ascenta Skin ($80). In days of yore, mothers made their children drink cod liver oil for its health benefits. Ascenta Skin is a much more palatable version specifically for skin health and backed by plenty of research, plus you only need a teaspoonful a day.
“While topical products will always be needed, they work mostly on the top layers of skin, the ones that are on their way out as you shed your skin,” says Marc St-Onge, the enthusiastic founder of the company. “Ascenta Skin works from the inside to target new skin forming in the dermal layers; it hydrates and nourishes the skin on its way in.”
“Marc St-Onge is absolutely, Mr. Omega 3,” enthuses Kinnaird. “When I asked to see some research documents, I had never seen anything like it, with so many facts and figures.”
The most important ingredient in Ascenta Skin is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) from fish oil, an omega-3 fatty acid. Now, most of us know anecdotally that fish oil is good for us—that cod liver oil again—and no less important for beauty to keep skin nourished and help ease eczema and psoriasis. Can it get better? Well, according to a new study from Manchester University in England, omega-3 oils could be very helpful in preventing skin cancer. One of the benefits of the lutein and zeaxanthin found in Ascenta Skin, is they act as natural UV protectors. In studies, skin has shown increased elasticity, firmness, and a reduction in rough skin. It also contains vitamin D to boost the immune system— after all, who looks good when they are sick?
One spanking new company I am very excited about is Hum Nutrition. Founded by two serial vitamin entrepreneurs, Chris Coleridge and Walter Faulstroh, the company offers personalized supplementation. Get your free consultation at www.humnutrition.com in three minutes—and unlike most questionnaires, it is actually fun and witty but, as you would expect, with hard science behind it. Your entry is then analyzed by a nutritionist and just to be clear, not just a bunch of algorithms pretending to be empathetic, but by a real heart-beating human. “The questionnaire is assessed by one of the best nutritionists in the country and in 48 hours, she will make recommendations for around two or three varieties of vitamins that are right for you,” explains Coleridge. “This then links you back to the site to order. You can’t order anything prior to assessment but afterward you can even add extras. Our aim is to take the guesswork out of supplements.”
Twenty-four different supplements cover the gamut of needs: Big Chill for stress, Wing Man for the liver, Gut Instinct for … well, you get it. But as for beauty? Aha, of course, Red Carpet ($14.95).
“Red Carpet has blackcurrant seed oil that contains GLA and ALAs that are great for skin and hair,” explains Coleridge. “And Killer Nails ($9.95) strengthens nails with biotin and silica.”
Another new range is from Dr. Daniel Sister, a French cosmetic doctor whom I have worked with before. He has created Beauty Works West Youth Capsules exclusively for net-a-porter.com (£120/$121.94 for 120, free shipping to the UK and US). It contains amino acids and marine plant extracts to enable skin repair and also increase muscle growth. As Nicky Kinnaird says, ”If you have a health junkie life, you need this too.” And even if you don’t, better skin could be just the start of really thinking about what you put in your body.