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Is Mineral Makeup Better? continued...

Unlike drugs, cosmetics (except for some color additives in hair dyes) currently do not have to be tested or approved by the FDA before they are sold. However, the proposed FDA Globalization Act of 2009 would require stricter cosmetic regulation and stronger FDA enforcement, including disclosure of most ingredients in cosmetics and a revised process for reviewing ingredient safety.

“A lot of products aren’t fully regulated to standards parents would care about,” says Lunder, who suggests shopping for products with the fewest ingredients and avoiding ingredients you suspect may be harmful. She also suggests that parents urge their kids to use only a handful of cosmetics and choose those items carefully.

Because young girls especially like to experiment with makeup, parents can be proactive by checking out ingredients in cosmetics before they allow their children to use them. The Environmental Working Group’s online Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database offers safety information for nearly 62,000 products containing more than 7,600 ingredients. You can search for items by brand name or product category and make choices based on safety ratings.

Starting With Skin Care Basics

Besides chemicals in cosmetics, perhaps a more significant concern for older children and teenagers is basic skin care with good products.

“The biggest thing for kids of this age is that so many of them are acne prone,” says Farris. “They watch all this stuff on TV and read all these beauty magazine and then use heavier creams and moisturizers that exacerbate their acne problems.”

Farris says that because girls start using makeup and skin products at an early age, she now routinely asks even young girls about moisturizers and makeup when they come to her office. She steers them away from heavy, oily products -- especially creams, lotions, and foundations -- that can aggravate acne and other skin issues.

Often parents are hesitant about letting young girls wear makeup at all, but Farris says she has no issues with cosmetics from a skin care perspective.

 “I don’t think there’s anything in makeup that we need to tell kids to avoid with the exception of something that might be really oily,” she says. “Is blush going to hurt you? Is a little eye shadow going to hurt you? Probably not.”

And if a young person has significant acne, covering it with a little oil-free concealer may help, she says. “Acne can be extremely psychologically distressing. Even though 80% of kids get acne, they all think they’re the only one.”

Tips for Healthy Skin

The key to healthy skin, says Farris, is to make sure kids start early with a good skin care regimen so they get in the habit of taking care of their skin. She offers these tips for parents helping their kids with skin care and cosmetics:

  • Make sure they wash their faces every day with a mild cleanser.
  • Avoid antibacterial soap and harsh scrubbing. Aggressive scrubbing and strong soaps can actually make acne worse.
  • Remove all makeup before going to bed. (This is a tip Farris suggests that mothers also follow!)
  • To minimize risk of contamination and infection, replace cosmetics after one year.


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