Saturday, July 10, 2010

OutInAPout Editorial Opinion:
13 Gross Things in Your Beauty Products
That Really Aren't That Gross

Tonight in the midst (yeah, midst) of some late-night Twittering, I stumbled across an article of the type that I regard much like a school yard fight, or perhaps a Kevin Smith movie. I know I could be bothered by looking, I'm aware my eyes may begin to ache after all of the inevitable rolling, but some morbid curiosity prods me forward regardless.

This particular feature, credited to one Molly Roemer, was published on, a mega-site that promises "Expert Advice. Unbiased reviews". 13 Gross Ingredients Hidden in Your Beauty Products warns us about human waste and dead animals that we're unsuspectingly smearing all over our faces. Attention grabbing, isn't it? But is it really something we need to be concerned about? I don't know about you, but I sure don't.

Here's a somewhat extended rewording of my comment on the site (you can click the link above to read the article and my actual comment, if you don't trust me). Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and this is just little-old-mine.

First, let's just come to terms with something. Just because something is "icky" doesn't mean it's bad for you, some times it's just the best thing for the job. Penicillin is a mold, but it has saved the lives of tens of million people.

Miss Molly's article reads like it should be in the beauty section of The Sun or National Enquirer. Many of these ingredients have been used for hundreds of years; even modern technology has yet to find a better option. Others are barely used at all. It's worth pointing out, for instance, that 13 Gross Ingredients' description of tallow makes it seem like a popular ingredient. Which it the 16th century. Today, the Cosmetics Safety Database (a source craftily quoted several times in the actual write up) lists only 2 products that contain the ingredient. Both products are pain relief creams- not the lipsticks, soaps and eyeshadow implied in the article.

So, while it may be technically factual, this article is simply too sensationalist to take at face value. Thus for you, my readers, I give you my take on some of this article's standouts.

Simethicone: So, let me get this straight- I'm putting an ingredient safe enough to eat and otherwise take internally onto my lips, hair and aching joints? Oh no, let me write my congressman!

Emu & Mink Oil: OK, yes. Some animals are cute and have varying degrees of feelings and it's not nice to kill them & rub them all over us. If the idea bothers you, look for "Emu Oil" or "Mink Oil" in your ingredients lists- those are the official INCI names that manufacturers are required to use, so they should be pretty easy to spot.

Cochineal Beetles: Yeah, there are bugs in your lipstick. Get over it. Carmine (the dye resulting from this beetle tea) was used in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt- if it was good enough for Cleo, it's good enough for me. BTW, it's also on the coating of your red M&Ms. C'mon- these bugs are grown in a closely controlled environment, boiled sterile, and strained out. Still grossed out? Look for products labeled "vegan" that use other dyes to get their fire engine red. Just remember that the dye that was outlawed in the 70's for causing cancer (Red Dye No. 2) was vegan. Just sayin'.

Ambergris (whale puke. yup.): How do they even collect that? (Oh, and pretty much no one uses it anymore, it's actually illegal in the US.)

I could go on about the other ingredients in the article, but I think you get the point, right? So what do you think, readers: will this change your routine or have you on the look out for Snail goo in your face creams?


Unknown said...

Here here! I absolutely agree with you. Personally i don't actually find any of it that disgusting, it's all safe and maybe i'm a bit strange but i just don't find much of that revolting. What on earth is wrong with the digestion relief stuff? And the other stuff just doesn't gross me out, most of us drank breast milk, i don't see that as worse than using goats milk soap. I'm a vegetarian so i won't use anything with mink or emu oil and i try my best to avoid carmine. Personally i think all of the chemicals in the products is more revolting than the natural ingredients.

Phyrra said...

Thanks for writing this up! Some of those ingredients just sound gross.

Unknown said...

Lillian & Phyrra- I have to admit that I'm pretty tolerant of "gross" (after all, I have a toddler!) but some of these things made me wonder where the author shops- breast milk soap, really? Is she frequenting Appalachian farmer's markets? And honestly, human milk would probably make nice soap- it's fatty and has a high sugar content :)

Unknown said...

OMG. I just tend to ignore on what can be on makeup because I love it so much. Ignorance is bliss, right? OR something like that. Love your blog by the way. xx

AleiCat said...

Kohl's now has a new anti-aging creme containing mushrooms! Yes, I said Kohl's... and yes, I said mushrooms! Don't put it on your pizza tho. I love it.

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