Bad Beauty Buys

You can find lots of great beauty loot online, but you’ll also come across plenty of overblown or even bogus beauty claims and risky skin-care products. There’s also a lot of bad advice out there.

The Internet is an international marketplace. As a result, companies can get around federal regulations. So if you’re shopping online for beauty products or surfing for advice, watch out!

One one end of the risk spectrum, a lot of sites make product claims that make no sense from a scientific perspective. One example: face creams that allegedly contain stem cells and promise to “stimulate fresh, new skin-cell production” and “decrease wrinkle appearance” dramatically in 30 days. That just isn’t possible, scientifically speaking.

On the other end of the risk spectrum are products that require a prescription in the U.S. or that aren’t even approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Here are some examples:

Skin-lightening products that contain 4 percent hydroquinone. Anything over a 2 percent concentration requires a prescription. The risk: If you use hydroquinone preparations at too high a concentration for too long, you can experience a reaction where the skin gets darker.
Extremely potent topical steroid creams that are not FDA-approved sold as lightening and brightening agents. The risk: If you have skin of color (if you’re of Indian or African descent, for example), these can destroy the integrity and pigment of your skin.
Skin products with higher concentrations of salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or retinoic acid. Anything higher than a 10 percent salicylic acid or a glycolic acid higher than 20 percent should be monitored by a physician, because of the potential for adverse skin reactions. There’s a reason retinoids (which are stronger than retinoic acid) require a prescription. A higher concentration can cause severe irritation, so it needs to be monitored by a physician.
In addition to risky or bogus products, you’ll also find lots of bad advice. Again, it ranges from the relatively harmless to the potentially disfiguring. One blogger recommended running eye pencil under hot water to make it glide on more smoothly. That will just wreck the pencil. Instead, twist it against the side of your clean palm for a few seconds – that should be enough to soften it sufficiently. Another site suggests using a mixture of pure castor oil and lemon juice as a wrinkle treatment. Castor oil can cause acne in oily skin types, and citrus juice, when it’s applied to the skin, can cause immediate irritation and brownish discoloration when the skin is exposed to sunlight.

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