Cosmetics scare

HAMBURG: Consumers should not base their decisions about buying cosmetics on the price and image of a brand, according to Paula Begoun, a cosmetics expert in the US who has spent more than two decades explaining the fine print on cosmetics product packages.

Begoun, 55, says it’s always better to read the fine print to find out what’s in the creams and something about the companies that make them. Begoun, who refers to herself as the cosmetics cop, worked for years selling cosmetics and has written several books about cosmetics. She says the cosmetics industry makes a lot of false claims. Expensive eye creams, for example, are a waste of money; they don’t have to cost a lot to be good.

Among her other complaints about the industry’s claims are those made about creams for wrinkles and cellulite. There are none that can make them disappear. Creams can indeed decrease wrinkles, but cannot completely prevent them. There is no scientific proof of anything else.

Begoun also said it is incorrect to believe that natural ingredients are always better than synthetic ones. On the contrary, there are some natural ingredients that bring out skin reactions and there are very good synthetic ingredients.

Begoun, author of the book Don’t Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, advises consumers not to use products that contain denatured alcohol because it destroys collagen, disrupts the skin’s self-healing ability and causes the skin’s protective layer to break down.

Consumers should be aware that fragrances can also irritate the skin. Examples are peppermint and menthol. She says the best protection against the skin’s ageing is still a daily cream that includes a sunscreen. Using such a cream has far more influence on the skin than nutrition.

In addition, products that are packaged in tubes or dispensers are better than those packaged in small jars because light and air can destroy the active ingredients, she says.

One category in which there is an especially high number of bad products is facial toner. While it’s difficult to make a bad lipstick or rouge, facial toners are a different story. Of hundreds she has examined closely, she has found that most amount to very little — usually water, fragrance and glycerin. In order to indeed nourish the skin, a toner must contain antioxidants, she said.