I LOVE makeup. Love putting it on, and love how it makes me look and feel. And although a part of me really doesn’t want to know the answer to this question, I’m a cancer survivor and have to ask it. Is all makeup dangerous for my health? Which brands should I avoid and which brands are safe?

Makeup has been around for centuries, but not the kind we put on ourselves today. Modern makeup is largely chemically-based and to a large extent has never been tested for safety. Out of all those expensive perfumes at the beauty counter for example, almost none uses natural essences – they’re made from chemicals rather than flowers. If you’ve ever walked into an empty room or elevator and could still smell the cologne of someone who’d left, you can bet that it was made from a synthetic fragrance because unlike natural flower essences, synthetic chemicals have a strong, long-lasting smell.

Many untested chemicals that we put on our skin go in our skin as well. Some of these chemicals that are in our make-up and skin creams are the very same ones used in industrial manufacturing to soften plastics, clean equipment and stabilize pesticides. Some, known as endocrine disrupters, can work in subtle ways by disrupting the body’s ability to produce adequate quantities of hormones or by interfering with the body’s hormonal pathways.

Again, become a good label reader and know that like ingredients on food packaging, labels on cosmetics are written in descending order, so the first ingredients on the list make up the majority of the product. Manufacturers may add some natural ingredients to make their product seem natural, but if you see the good stuff listed last instead of first, there could be less than one percent that’s actually natural, and the rest being nasty chemicals. Keep it simple and buy products with the fewest and safest ingredients possible.

I have a list of safe cosmetics in my book “Super Natural Home.” You can also check the website www.safecosmetics.org for reviews and ratings on cosmetics. In general, the makeup you’ll find at stores like Whole Foods or Pharmaca will be much safer than those found in department stores and drug stores.

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Beth Greer, aka Super Natural Mom®, is an award-winning journalist, green holistic health educator, healthy home expert and impassioned champion of toxin-free living. She’s also a radio talk show host, and trusted consumer advocate, who is leading a movement of awareness and responsibility about healthy homes, schools and work environments. Connect with Beth on Facebook and Twitter.