How to Make a Total Beauty Transformation in 7 Days

Have you ever heard the word “neuroplasticity”? It’s the term brain scientists use to describe how our neural networks and the connections in our brains physically change in response to new information. As you’re reading this now, the structure of your brain is literally taking on a new shape. What this means is that you have the ability to rewire your brain at any moment in time. You have a choice, every second of every day, to become a different person who makes different choices.

You can take a new path and forge a new life in which you are more beautiful than you’ve ever been beginning right this very moment. No matter where your quest for beauty has taken you in the past, you don’t have to let past failures control future success.

Your Pursuit of Beauty

Think about your beauty journey in life so far. Where has it taken you? To the aisles of Sephora? To every hair salon in town? To hundreds or maybe thousands of beauty blogs and websites? What has it cost you? Hundreds of dollars on a year’s worth of personal training sessions? Thousands of dollars at a plastic surgeon’s office? A small fortune spent on more magic pills and creams than you can possibly name?

And what was the end result of all that time and money? A bunch of outdated diet books dropped off at the Goodwill? A stack of unused workout DVDs stashed in a box in the basement? After all the things you’ve tried to be and feel more beautiful, have they worked? Do you feel like you’re your most beautiful self right now? I’m going to take a wild guess and say no. Because if you did you probably wouldn’t have bought this book.

Our temporary highs on the quest for beauty can be fun—a new tube of lip gloss, a flawless manicure, a rejuvenating facial—but as any addict will tell you, what goes up must come down. After we get over the new outfit or new haircut, we often find ourselves feeling the same way we did before we got our latest beauty fix. We still don’t feel beautiful. We need more.

That’s where this book comes in. I promise this is not some esoteric treatise on the meaning of beauty (although I would encourage you to wax poetic rather than wax your legs any day of the week). I promise this book will contain a lot of practical advice about the brands of makeup that you should buy and the resources you should use to get the best beauty information. But what you’re not going to get in this book is a lot of worthless beauty tips. You know—lessons on applying bronzer or how to dress a pear-shaped body—that kind of junk.

Beauty is much deeper than a pretty face and a toned body. It’s something that radiates from some women and is starkly absent in others. I’m going to tell you how to get the kind of beauty that everyone will be immediately attracted to…the kind that makes people want to know more about you…the kind that is evident whether you’re 22 or 72.

So no matter what you’ve thought about beauty in the past, I hope you’ll commit to keeping an open mind and think again. If you do what I tell you for the next seven days, you’ll be amazed at what happens. You will feel different and everyone around you will start to treat you differently because you will literally look different—in every way possible. In fact, just one week from now, you will wake up and realize that your long quest for beauty has ended with the ultimate find:  You’ve just stumbled upon the holy grail.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 3 – take up drinking

There’s a final component to add to your new outlook about what you put in your body. I am going to deal with what you choose to drink separately from what you choose to eat just to show you how detrimental your drinking choices are to your overall health and beauty.

The Source of Life

If you don’t already, you should begin drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day. This means that if you weigh 160 pounds you should be drinking at least 80 ounces of water every day. A lot of women ask, “Won’t I become bloated if I drink that much water? The last thing I need is to gain a bunch of water weight!” What many people still don’t understand is that you only retain water when you aren’t drinking enough of it. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but any “water weight” you’d like to get rid of will disappear for good once you become well hydrated. When you are drinking plenty water your body recognizes that there is no longer a water shortage and it releases all those stores of water it was previously saving. After you up your water intake, the body will drop its water weight very fast—sometimes as much as 4 or 5 pounds in the first week.

Since the human body is more than 70% water, we need to constantly replenish this supply. Drinking a lot of water helps the kidneys and liver function efficiently, which is especially important because they happen to be the organs related to fat loss. Plus it helps regulate our metabolism!

It’s best to drink filtered water and stay away from tap water, which, as you’ve probably heard, can be extremely hazardous to your health. Because of the dangerous chemicals used to treat water, there are now more than 2100 known toxins that can be present in tap water. Arsenic, lead, asbestos, aluminum, mercury, herbicide and pesticides are commonly found in tap water. In fact, more than ten million Midwesterners are exposed to carcinogenic herbicides in their drinking water every year.

Making matters worse, chlorine and fluoride are still being added to tap water. Chlorine was used as a chemical weapon in the Iraq War. It’s the primary ingredient in bleach and disinfectants. A study by the U.S. Council of Environmental Quality concluded, “Cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is 93% higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine.” Fluoride is a toxic byproduct of the chemical manufacturing process. Nobel Laureate Dr. Albert Schatz said, “Fluoridation is the greatest fraud that has ever been perpetrated and it has been perpetrated on more people than any other fraud has.” And Dr. Dean Burk of the National Cancer Institute said, “More people have died in the last 30 years from cancer connected with fluoridation than all the military deaths in the entire history of the United States.” That should be enough reason to forgo the tap water!

A Dangerous Habit

As you begin drinking more water, you’ll be able to eliminate other unhealthy drinks from your daily liquid intake. First to get rid of: soda pop. Begin to cut back drastically on soft drinks. Better yet, forget them altogether. Watch the lecture “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” mentioned in Lesson 1 for a complete description of why you want go soda-free.

If you find, however, that you must have a Coke or Pepsi with your pizza, just please make it a regular, not diet. Why? Because, as you’ve likely already heard, the aspartame found in diet pop is one of the most dangerous food additives ever created.

A dose of aspartame equivalent to what you would get by drinking three cans of Diet soda each day was given to rats for just two months. The end result was that the chemical caused the highest incidence of brain tumors when compared to any other chemical ever tested on lab rats.

Now, you might be saying, “But the FDA approved aspartame, so it can’t be that bad.” The truth is that the FDA actually denied aspartame approval for more than eight years until it was finally overruled. Japan has banned aspartame completely because they care about their citizens more than they care about big business. We Americans aren’t so fortunate.

What does a food additive like aspartame have to do with becoming more beautiful? A lot. The more you return to nature and eliminate all the man-made junk that has flooded every area of your busy, modern life, the more beautiful you’ll start to look and feel. And the changes will be dramatic. I promise.

If you’re accustomed to using artificial sweeteners like Nutrasweet, Splenda and Equal in your coffee, stop. If you want a few good reasons to quit your Nutrasweet or Equal habit go to If you some good reasons to quit the Splenda habit go to Instead buy packets of the all-natural sweetener Stevia to carry around in your purse for sweetening tea or coffee. And if you still miss the carbonated taste of pop, new colas like Zevia are being made with Stevia instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Though the politics of the artificial sweetener industry have stopped Stevia from coming online full force and the U.S. (and stopped it dead in its tracks in the U.K.), things are starting to change and Stevia is beginning to get its due.

Sidenote: It won’t do you any good to avoid aspertame in your diet pop only to later ingest it in your yogurt and sugar-free candy. Check the ingredients’ lists on all packaged food you buy from chocolate milk to chewing gum to make sure you are steering completely clear of aspertame, Splenda and other artificial sweeteners.

Personal Stories


Shelley is a 56-year-old mother of three and grandmother of four. She drank two or three cups of coffee a day and always sweetened them with a packet of Splenda. Renee had never had any health problems whatsoever. After about 6 months of ingesting a couple packs of Splenda per day she began experiencing terrible aches in every muscle in her body. She said she would lie awake at night and her muscles would ache so bad she couldn’t sleep. She went to a doctor and he told her she must have a rapid onset case of severe fibromyalgia. It didn’t make any sense to her since she’d always been in great health, but she didn’t know what else it could be. Finally someone suggested she try eliminating the Splenda from her diet. She did and within just a few weeks she began feeling better. A couple months later the muscle aches were completely gone. They have never returned.

Faith is a 61-year-old mother of three and grandmother of six. A year ago she began experiencing dizzy spells that would last all day long. She went to three doctors and had dozens of tests performed. Everything showed up completely normal. Though she was relieved, she really wasn’t. She assumed she must have a brain tumor or something that the doctors missed because she would get dizzy every single day and some days it would be so bad she’d have double vision, she’d be unable to walk and she’d experience vertigo. One day her son suggested she stop drinking the 20-ounce Diet Coke that she had with her lunch every day. She did and within a few weeks the dizziness disappeared. It has never returned.


Green Goodness

If you’re ready for some incredible changes in your appearance, including brighter eyes, clearer skin, and longer, stronger hair and nails, replace your morning caffeine with this miracle drink. The drink I’m talking about is a green smoothie. The quickest way to load your body up with the nutrients discussed in Lesson 1 is to drink them. So get out your blender, or better yet, splurge on a Vita-Mix, (it’s the only appliance I use almost every day), and whip up a green smoothie first thing in the morning. It will take you less than three minutes but will help you feel incredible for the rest of the day.

How do you make a delicious green smoothie? Start with a banana. Toss it in the blender. Add some blueberries, strawberries, pineapple and ice, then fill the blender to the top with spinach. It may not sound tasty, but I promise that, aside from the green color, you won’t even notice the spinach is there. This is a simple and easy way to get loaded with the amazing nutrients available through dark leafy greens and antioxidant-rich berries.

If you have a Vita-Mix (or a really good blender) you can keep a few bags of frozen fruit on hand and just dump those in. Keep a frozen berry mix and citrus mix on hand and blend them together with some water and spinach.

Since you’ll be consuming a lot of produce when you first start making your green smoothies, please try to buy organic. You may want to keep a list of the “dirty dozen” on hand when you go grocery shopping. The dirty dozen is a list of the 12 the fruits and vegetables that are most heavily sprayed with pesticides. Right now the dirty dozen includes items such as peaches, strawberries, apples, cherries, blueberries, bell peppers and, unfortunately, spinach.

To get the most out of your green smoothie, buy some frozen organic wheatgrass shots from your local health food store or online. Add 1 ounce of frozen wheatgrass to your green smoothie every day. If you mix in a lot of pineapple, the wheatgrass taste shouldn’t be too noticeable. Keep experimenting with the measurements until you get the right mix for your tastebuds.

After drinking green smoothies for two weeks you’re going to notice that you’re not as hungry all the time because your body is getting all the good stuff it craves. You’ll also notice you have more energy and you don’t fall prey to colds and flues that are going around. The benefits of green smoothies are too many to name but I promise you will appear more beautiful as a result of your new drinking habit. And that will make it impossible to kick.

Lather Up…Or Don’t

Since you use soap in the shower on a daily basis, it’s smart to check the ingredients of your favorite soap brand before rubbing it all over every square inch of your skin. When you read through the list, be on the lookout for these red flags…

1. If you see the word fragrance, it’s time to find a new soap.  We already know that “fragrance” can be beauty industry code for up to 4,000 more synthetic chemicals. Fragrance also usually contain phthalates, and we know how hazardous those can be.

2. If you see any colors or numbers, it’s time to find a new soap. I’m talking about Yellow 5, Green 3, and other FD&C dyes often used in soaps. Why are these cause for concern? Well, Yellow 5 has been shown to adversely affect both the liver and kidney, not only at higher doses but also at low doses. And Green 3 has been prohibited by the European Union because it was “found to have tumorigenic effects in experimental animals as well as mutagenic effects in both experimental animals and humans.” Yikes!

The bottom line is that we can do far better than the chemical-laden drugstore soap brands. Nature has provided us with some exceptional options for getting ourselves clean if we’d just be willing to branch out. So forget your Dove, Dial, Irish Spring and Lever 2000 and try something new like the Tahitian Vanilla Soap from The Body Deli. Check out its list of all-natural ingredients:

Oils of organic Olive, organic Jojoba, organic Avocado, organic Castor, Palm Oil, organic Coconut, organic Shea Butter, organic Evening Primrose, organic Rose-Hip Seed & Pure Food Grade Extract of Tahitian Vanilla.

The Great Sun Debate

Summer is here and the Internet is drowning in articles about sun exposure and sunscreen…writers warning of the evils of the sun and the necessity of sunscreen all packaged in skin cancer statistics and delivered with a bow.  If you’re as sick of it as I am, there’s good news: Much of what they say is wrong!  Let me break down the basics for you as quickly as possible so you never have to read another article about sun exposure and sunscreen again…

Should I go out in the sun?

Yes!  Sure!  Our bodies need it.  Avoiding the sun completely is not good for you.  Excessive sun exposure is not good either and can lead to skin cancer. But getting a little sun exposure on a regular basis has actually been shown to decrease your risk for sixteen different types of cancer, including breast, colon, pancreatic and prostate!  All you have to do is get some sun but don’t get sun damage.  In other words, don’t sit outside and sunbathe all day.  Anyone can tell that’s not a smart thing to do.  But by all means play in the sun a while. Why?  Because your body needs vitamin D…

What’s the big deal about Vitamin D?

Known as the sunshine vitamin, our bodies produce it in response to exposure to sunlight and in turn Vitamin D helps the body use calcium from our diet to give us strong bones.  According to the Vitamin D Council, the amount of Vitamin D recommended for supplementation by the U.S. government is not enough to receive the full health benefits obtainable from this vitamin.  Low blood levels of Vitamin D can pose health risks such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, severe asthma in children and cancer.  A study by vitamin D expert Dr. William Grant, Ph.D. found that about 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented every year with higher levels of vitamin D because it reduces the spread and reproduction of cancer cells.

Even though Vitamin D occurs naturally in a few foods, sun exposure should be your method of choice for getting the Vitamin D you need…

How much sun exposure do I need?

Twenty minutes will do it, but don’t get hung up on numbers.  And no, lying out in the sun for two hours won’t get you “more of a good thing” because you’ll likely be subjecting your skin to sun damage.  But also know that there is no risk of getting too much vitamin D from being in the sun.  Vitamin D toxicity only happens when using vitamin D supplements.

What’s all this talk about UVB-rays versus UVA-rays?

UVA rays are the main cause of sunburn.  They penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB-rays and cause free radical damage. The reason tanning beds are not good for you is because the high-pressure sunlamps they use can emit doses of UVA-rays as much as 12 times that of the sun.  Hence all the controversy around tanning beds as people who use them all the time are much more likely to develop skin cancer.  Some tanning salons now have UVB-only beds, which are definitely an improvement.

So what am I supposed to do about sunscreen?

Put it on if you know you’ll be outside much of the day.  But if you’re obsessive about putting it on every single day under your makeup  you’ll never get the amount of Vitamin D you need because the sunscreen is going to inhibit your body’s production of it.  So use common sense.  Just don’t use anything except an all-natural sunscreen.

Conventional sunscreens are extremely hazardous to your health. Don’t use them on yourself and please don’t use them on your children.  The main chemicals in 90% of sunscreens on the market today contain at least one or all of these chemicals: Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC), Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane and Benzophenone-3.  OMC kills cells in mice, even at very low doses and Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane affects endocrine activity.

Studies have shown that the chemicals in sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in the blood stream.  Here’s a list of some other chemicals often found in sunscreens that you don’t want circulating through your or your baby’s bloodstream:

  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Para amino benzoic acid (PABA)
  • Avobenzone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Padimate O
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Trolamine salicyclate
  • Octocrylene

You would think they would use safe ingredients in sunscreens made for kids, but they don’t.  For instance, here are the ingredients in Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Spray With Protective Vitamins:

Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 15%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 10%, Oxybenzone 6%, Alcohol Denat. (63.5% V/V), Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer, Glycerin, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Fragrance, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride

No amount of “protective vitamins” will help save kids from the dangerous chemicals used to make this sunscreen.  And most other popular kids sunscreen brands have the same thing going on.  Just check the label if you don’t believe me.

So what sunscreen should I use?

An all-natural one that uses zinc oxide to reflect and scatter both UVA and UVB rays.  For instance, this great kids’ sunscreen from Belly Buttons & Babies would be completely safe for little ones because it contains these ingredients only:

Purified water, zinc oxide, grapeseed oil, grapeseed extract, tocopherol (vitamin E)

The bottom line about sun

Get some. Not too much. Don’t get burned. Never ever use anything except an all-natural sunscreen.

The Acne Drug

A Beauty Guru reader recently sent me an email in which she mentioned that her dermatologist had just prescribed her a generic brand of Accutane. Her email made me want to share a little bit about what Accutane (and its generic versions) do to the body.

Roche Holding AG, the manufacturer of Accutane, has been sued continually for the countless mental and physical health problems developed by Accutane users. They’ve already paid out $45 million in damages.

It’s well known that taking the drug causes inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Actor James Marshall, who starred in A Few Good Men, sued Roche for $11 million in damages because he lost his colon after taking Accutane. Martin Sheen actually took the stand to testify on his behalf. A 24-year-old woman who had part of her intestines removed won $10 million from Roche.

But that’s not the scariest part of the drug. The scariest part is psychiatric in nature. In 2005 the FDA warned that all Accutane users (and users of the generic forms of the drug) should be observed closely for symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts. Brain scans taken in 2004 showed that people taking Accutane suffered a 21% decrease in frontal brain activity. Yes, that’s right a 21% decrease in frontal brain activity. That’s the part of the brain that plays a role in mood and social interaction.

This has led to many families suing Roche over the years. Families of people such as:

  1. Charles Bishop, a 15-year-old who crashed a plane into a skyscraper after eight months on Accutane
  2. Matthew Turney, a 16-year-old who shot himself
  3. Steven Wertheimer, a 14-year-old who stood in front of an oncoming train
  4. Bart Stupak Jr., the son of a Michigan congressman, who took his father’s gun and shot himself in the head
  5. James Bencz, a 31-year-old firefighter who was found at the bottom of a lake with a 44-lb barbell strapped to his body

As if all this wasn’t enough to make you run screaming away from the drug, Accutane has a 100% guarantee of birth defects if taken while pregnant. You have to be on birth control while taking the drug or they won’t even let you take it. The Mayo Clinic said, “Isotretinoin (the generic name for Accutane) is associated with severe birth defects.” According to the Accutane website “There is an extremely high risk that severe birth defects will result if pregnancy occurs while taking Accutane in any amount, even for short periods of time.”

Roche finally took Accutane off the market in 2009, but it wasn’t for the reason you might think. The truth was that the generic versions of the drug (isotretinoin), were outselling them. Accutane simply couldn’t handle the competition. Now drugs with new names such as Claravis, Sotret, and Amnesteem, are being prescribed across the U.S. But all of these drugs are still Accutane—just with a new name. .

Here’s the thing: The psychological problems people with acne face can seem so bad at times that compromising their health is not really an issue if it means getting rid of the acne for good. But Accutane is absolutely not the way to go. In fact, dermatologists do not have the solution for acne at all. But there is a solution…something that will eliminate your acne like Accutane does without putting your mind and body in harm’s way. Read about it here.

The Dermatologist’s Protocol

So you’re having some  breakouts and you realize Proactiv isn’t going to cut it. What do you do? You schedule an appointment with a dermatologist, right? Well, I’m going to suggest you cancel that appointment. And here’s why…

About 85 percent of Americans have trouble with acne at some point in their life, and most people turn to a dermatologist for help. But let me explain to you how that industry works. If you’ve ever been to a dermatologist, you already know that they follow an “acne protocol.” They start out by putting you on a topical treatment, such as Retin-A or Differin. Then, when you come back in a few months and say “I’m still having breakouts,” they move on to the next phase of the “protocol” by prescribing antibiotics, such as tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline or erythromycin. Then, when you come back a few months later and say, “Um, yeah…I still have acne,” they put you on oral contraceptives or a drug like spironolactone that will alter the levels of testosterone being produced by your body. Finally, when you come back after all of that and say, “Yep, still having breakouts,” they begin considering Accutane—one of the most dangerous drugs ever to be released to the public.

I used to read about how dermatologists use this “protocol,” but I never believed it was such an industry standard until I experienced it firsthand…not once, not twice, but three times during both high school and college. I saw different dermatologists each time in different cities, but the protocol was exactly the same. And what was the end result of all my doctor’s visits? Nothing. My skin hadn’t changed. The acne remained.

Here’s the thing everyone must know: Acne is big business. The dermatology industry didn’t set out to deceive millions of people, but because acne is a such a huge source of revenue for both their industry and the pharmaceutical industry, they can never actually address the true cause and eradicate it. It’s like cancer. If the root causes of cancer were addressed and there was no more cancer, millions of people would lose their jobs and billions of dollars would be lost on chemotherapy and radiation.

What do I mean by root causes of acne? For instance, it is well known that one of the root causes of acne is diet. We know this because we know that acne is mostly found in the Western world. It’s not much of a problem in non-Westernized countries where refined carbs and sugar are consumed in much lower amounts. But a dermatologist will never suggest you cut processed foods out of your diet. Why? Because there’s no money to be made by doing that. The dermatologist’s office doesn’t have a deal with the produce farmers of America; they have a deal with the pharmaceutical companies.

And a dermatologist will also never say, “Um, maybe you shouldn’t use that particular brand of skincare products or makeup on your face because of all the terrible chemicals that are in it.” Why? Because it would be the most hypocritical thing they could say when their “protocol” involves countless synthetic chemicals and harmful substances.

There is some good news, however. After many failed attempts by dermatologists to clear my skin, my skin is completely clear right now and it definitely wasn’t because I did what they suggested. It’s because I did what one very smart woman in California recommended. Find out more about her here.

Organic Beauty

If you haven’t stopped by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) lately to read about their Coming Clean Campaign, you should. Why? Because they’ve been working tirelessly to clean up the “organic” cosmetics industry since 2004 and they’re finally starting to make some real headway.

Due to poor labeling standards, many beauty products that claim to be “organic” are falsely labeled as such. The goal of the OCA is to limit organic claims to products that are actually certified by USDA organic standards.

In 2010, the OCA, along with certified organic brands Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Intelligent Nutrients and Organic Essence filed a complaint with the U.S. National Organic Program about the terrible labeling practices of so-called “organic” personal care brands. The complaint urged the USDA to regulate cosmetics like they do food and crack down on these fake “organic” brands once and for all.

Some of the personal care brands accused of false labeling in this complaint included:

  • Avalon Organics
  • Dessert Essence Organics
  • Earth’s Best Organics
  • Giovanni Organics
  • Jason’s Pure
  • Natural and Organic
  • Kiss My Face Certified Organic Botanicals
  • Nature’s Gate Organics
  • Physicians Formula Organic Wear

The craziest part about the above list is that those brands, and only those brands, comprise the short list of “healthy” personal care products carried at my local health food store. How sad is that?

The OCA is working to curb this problem too by asking retail stores that claim to make health a priority not to carry brands making false organic claims. The OCA won a major victory recently when Whole Foods agreed to set up a new requirement for it’s organic personal care brands, saying that their shoppers “don’t expect the definition of ‘organic’ to change substantially between the food and non-food aisles” of their stores.

Right now the only way to protect yourself against all the deceptive labeling going on in the “organic” beauty industry is to only buy products that carry the USDA Certified Organic seal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture only awards this seal to products with contents that are 100% certified organic or 95% certified organic with the remaining 5% of ingredients posing no known risk to health or environment.

Any beauty product that does not bear this seal but still claims on its label to be “organic” is not telling the full truth. It likely still contains several, (if not dozens), of chemicals and synthetic ingredients that pose a risk to human health.

The following brands carry the USDA organic certification seal:

Eat Your Lipstick

It’s been said that the average woman ingests four to nine pounds of lipstick in her lifetime. Just pay attention to how many times you taste what’s on your lips in one 24-hour period and you’ll realize that those numbers may actually be accurate.

So what exactly are you ingesting when you accidentally eat your lipstick?

Here are the ingredients found in the 2010 Allure Readers’ Choice Lipstick: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Softsilver Rose.

Trioctyldodecyl Citrate, Ozokerite, Polybutene, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Capric/Caprylic Stearic Triglyceride, C10 30 Cholesterol/Lanesterol Esters, Bis Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate 2, Calcium Sodium Borosilicate, Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Cera Microcristallina (Microcrystalline Wax) (Microcrystalline Wax), Synthetic Wax, Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Serica Poudre de Soie (Silk Powder), Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2 Hexanediol, Mica, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, 77492, 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163) (CI 77163), Red 6 Lake (CI 15850), Red 7 Lake (CI 15850), Red 27 Lake (CI 45410), Red 33 Lake (CI 17200), Yellow 6 Aluminum Lake (CI 15985) (CI 15985), Blue 1 (CI 42090) (CI 42090), Yellow 5 Aluminum Lake (CI 15850), Carmine (CI 75470) (CI 75470)

That’s a grand total of 34 practically indecipherable ingredients. Can you guess where the last ingredient on that list–carmine–comes from? Would you believe it comes from crushed up beetles? Apparently they give off a really nice red color after they’re boiled in water. Gross, huh?

Not to mention that the FDA recently tested 22 brands of lipstick and found lead in every single one of them.

Maybe you don’t wear lipstick that often so you figure you’re okay. Maybe you just wear lip balm or chapstick to keep your lips from getting too dry. But have you ever stopped to examine the ingredients list on a tube of ChapStick? Here’s what you would find if you did:

Arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol, D&C red no. 6 barium lake, FD&C yellow no. 5 aluminum lake, fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, oleyl alcohol, paraffin, phenyl trimethicone, propylparaben, titanium dioxide, white wax

Let’s take a closer look at just the bolded ingredients above:

  • Camphor: Used as an embalming fluid.
  • Carnauba Wax: Used in automobile waxes, shoe polishes, floor and furniture waxes. It’s the main ingredient in surfboard wax
  • Lanolin: A substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep. Baseball players use it to break in their gloves and musicians use it to lubricate their instruments.
  • Methylparaben: Studies indicate that when this is applied to the skin it may react with UVB and lead to increased skin aging and DNA damage.
  • Oleyl alcohol: Comes from inedible beef fat.
  • Titanium dioxide: Used to mark the white lines on tennis courts and to coat the exteriors of some rockets.

Whether you use lipstick, balm or gloss, it’s probably wise to break the addiction to anything but an all-natural one. If you need more reasons to make the switch, visit Lip Balm Anonymous and read the section Is Balm Addictive?

What’s in a Fragrance?

When you read the ingredients on the back of a beauty product, you’re likely to come across one simple word: Fragrance. Sounds harmless enough. But what you should be asking yourself is: What’s in a “fragrance?” Because the answer, more often than not, inclues phthalates. Phthalates are chemicals that disrupt hormones and are known to cause a wide range of birth defects while playing a part in both male and female infertility.

The word “fragrance” is really just a catch-all for something that can contain literally hundreds more chemicals. Yet under current law the word can be substituted for all those ingredients even though they might make up 20% of the entire product. Phthalates are routinely found in fragrances. They are most often used in nail polishes, lotions, shampoos, hair gels and deodorants, (look for an ingredient listed as DBP, DEHP or DEP).

The FDA does not regulate the use of phthalates in cosmetics. In 2000, the Environmental Working Group released a report saying, “Phthalates are recognized as toxic substances under environmental law, but companies are free to use unlimited amounts in cosmetics.”

A 2005 study at the University of Rochester measured levels of phthalates in the bodies of pregnant women and found a significant relationship between the levels present in mothers and changes to their male infants’ genitals. This not only confirmed that phthalate levels in mothers have an affect on their unborn children, but it also confirmed what many researchers have said for decades: Phthalates are especially harmful to the male reproductive system. Another study published a month later also found decreased testosterone levels among baby boys exposed to phthalates coming from their mom’s breast milk.

Find out which specific beauty products you are currently using that are known to contain phthalates by scanning this comprehensive report entitled Not Too Pretty: Phthalates, Beauty Products and the FDA.

Product Safety 101

As you already probably know, many ingredients used in beauty products are questionable at best and downright dangerous at worst. Since 1938 the FDA has only banned 10 of 12,000 synthetic ingredients used to make personal care items. (In sharp contrast, the Cosmetics Directive in the EU has banned 1,100 compounds suspected of causing cancer, reproductive disorders or genetic mutations.). One of the ingredients finally banned in the U.S. seems kind of obvious: It’s mercury. Mercury used to be a preservative in shampoo, hair color, deodorant, etc., and, when absorbed through the skin, can cause brain, kidney and lung damage. The very fact that mercury was used in beauty products for so long without any repercussions should tell you something about the lack of restrictions in the beauty industry as a whole.

In a 2007 Environmental Working Group study, it was discovered that nearly 400 products sold in the U.S. (including Crest Whitestrips and Neutrogena face cream) still contain chemicals that have already been banned in Japan, Canada and Europe. Additionally, almost all of the products examined in the study contained at least one ingredient that has never been tested for safety…anywhere.

Beauty product manufacturers still love to fall back on the age-old excuse that the ingredients in their products are being applied externally and in such small quantities that they aren’t likely to cause any negative long-term damage. But as we have seen time and time again, this isn’t true. The body’s largest organ–the skin–absorbs close to 60% of products applied topically.

With very few groups in the U.S. concerned about the wellbeing of beauty product consumers (with the exception of a few great watchdog groups like Skin Deep), it only makes sense that we take matters into our own hands by incorporating more all-natural or organic beauty products into our daily routine.

The trouble is that there’s still no standard for what constitutes an “all-natural” or “organic” beauty product. Adding to the confusion, the giants of the beauty industry are now using consumer pressure for safer products as a way to push the same old chemicals with a new, friendly face. By adding a tiny, almost negligible, amount of natural or organic ingredients to their products, (and then filling the rest with toxic synthetics), they can slap an “all-natural” or “organic” label on the front of the bottle. We are then led to assume their products are safer, even though they’re not.

So how do you know if your beauty products are harboring unsafe ingredients? One of two ways:

1. Look for the “USDA Certified Organic” seal. If a product carries the seal, it has received a third party organic certification and contains at least 95% organic materials. Here is a list of 25 beauty brands that contain many products with the USDA Certified Organic seal.

2. Actually read every single ingredient. If you see any of the following on the list, step away from the product:

  • Anything that includes the word paraben (methyl, propyl, butyl, ethyl, etc.)-Preliminary research has linked parabens with breast cancer.
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea and Diazolidinyl Urea-The most commonly used preservative after parabens. These can release formaldehyde and are toxic.
  • BHT-Known to cause cancer in lab rats and linked to many other health problems.
  • Anything that includes the abbreviations DEA, TEA or MEA-These are found in a lot of beauty products. There is clear evidence linking these with carcinogenic activity.
  • Mineral oils such as petrolatum or petroleum-While these aren’t harmful on their own they are often produced cheaply with impurities including that have been linked to breast cancer. Thus, it’s been banned by the EU for use in cosmetics.
  • Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate-A cheap detergent derived from petroleum that causes many allergic reactions.
  • Fragrance-There is no way to tell what the word “fragrance” really means. Fragrances used in cosmetics can have as many as 200 ingredients and usually includes phthalates which have been linked to reproductive disorders.
  • Any synthetic color (e.g. FD&C Red No. 6 or D&C Green No. 6)-Synthetic colors are also believed to be cancer causing.

If you’d rather use our CliffsNotes to locate beauty products that won’t harm your health, read this article on the safest brands out there.