Mascara? Check. Lip gloss? Check. Breast cancer? Check.

When I put on my makeup in the morning, as I sip my coffee and jam out to my iPod, the last thing I’m thinking about is whether or not I’m giving myself cancer. Some things, like smoking and tanning, definitely cause cancer.  Other practices have a more ambiguous link, such as using artificial sweeteners or talking on your cell phone. Radiation kills! Er, maybe. But putting on makeup?

According to the Environmental Working Group, 80 percent of 7,500 beauty products tested contained 146 chemicals linked to cancer. Some of the chemicals top the lists of main ingredients found in beauty products — parabens, fragrance and foaming agent dioxane, for example, can all lead to tumors. Beauty comes with a pricetag, but cancer is a bit too steep of a price for me.

Should we be worried? Yes and no. The research is tentative — if everything scientists said causes cancer (french fries?!) actually did cause cancer, we’d all be dead. But we can take steps to become more aware as shoppers. Always read makeup labels, and read them thoroughly. Even products labeled “organic” can legally contain synthetic chemicals. The National Organic Program has yet to decide whether or not so-called organic beauty products should be held to the same standards as organic foods. Just because an organic product is more expensive than the item it is next to on the shelf doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safer. 

Bottom line: Watch out for these chemicals when reading what’s in your makeup. If you don’t eat junk food, you shouldn’t put junk on your skin, either. You can thank me in a decade, when you’re cancer-free and sittin’ pretty.

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~ by Stephanie Dunn on October 20, 2008.

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