Did You ‘Put Your Face On’ Today?
Behind the Cosmetics Counter—Through a Woman’s Eyes
IF SO, that beautiful image that smiled back at you in the mirror was probably a creation of beeswax, castor oil, shellac, and the corpses of female insects similar to mealybugs!
An exotic creature? Perhaps. For the most part, though, this is an average woman who has just finished putting on her makeup—her “face”—and, as a result, is ready to meet the world!
‘I just don’t feel dressed without my lipstick on’ is a sentiment of many women who feel that cosmetics are as important as wearing clothes. But why are they so necessary to some women, yet needless to others? Does makeup help or hinder the ultimate goal of beauty? Can you believe all the ads you read, and if not, how do you decipher fact from fiction? Let’s explore this subject so fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) to millions of women.
Advertising Is the Name of the Game
Throughout history, the attitudes toward cosmetics and their propriety varied largely according to the whims of the current ruler or government. Makeup continued on or off the face until around World War I, after which the cosmetics industry—as big business—was born. From a gross income of nearly $40 million in 1914 to over $13 billion (U.S.) in 1982, the cosmetics industry can credit much of its phenomenal growth to advertising.
A beautiful woman coos across the TV screen, “It’s expensive, but I’m worth it.” The saleswoman asks, “You’ll take the gel, ma’am? Well, it doesn’t work without the balm. You must apply one in the morning and one at night.” Product X “works . . . within the epidermis to accelerate natural skin renewal . . . The skin looks . . . more youthful,” promises the brochure.
Let’s examine what you were sold. In the first instance you paid extra for the item but “bought” the underlying ego soother “be-good-to-yourself.” In the second case you sought one product you wanted, but purchased the “complete line” since ‘one won’t work without the other.’ And finally, since cell renewal accelerates to repair injured or damaged skin, your third purchase, as explained by Money magazine, “induces an invisible and harmless inflammatory reaction that boosts production of new cells. Although the new cells on the stratum corneum [top layer of skin] may be young and fresh, that old sagging dermis is still underneath, folding and wrinkling away.” You bought hope, not substance, at $39.50 an ounce.
Another powerful means of advertising comes from women’s magazines. “‘From a very early age, women’s normal insecurities are heightened tremendously’ by the prepackaged perfection that women’s magazines portray,” says Ellen McCracken, Ph.D., and researcher into the effect of women’s magazines. Just how much advertising is done? According to Advertising Age, McCracken says that “the women’s magazines always start the list.” In one issue alone there were 610 pages of advertising, or 76 percent of the entire magazine! “If you count what’s hidden in the editorial matter, close to 95 percent of the magazine becomes ads,” she says. What price, these advertisements? One back-cover ad sold for $99,000 each month. That’s a lot of lipstick!
Does Higher Price Mean Higher Quality?
Is there a difference between the supermarket’s 99c tube of lipstick and the department store’s $7.50 tube? Depends on whom you ask. Yes, say the giant cosmetic companies; no, answer the low-priced manufacturers. The budget-priced companies claim the price differences are in the packaging and marketing, whereas the major cosmetic companies cite research and development for new products, more variety in shades and colors, and greater advertising costs as the reasons for their bigger price tags.
As stated by Margaret Morrison, a staff writer for the FDA (Food and Drug Administration Office of Public Affairs): “Although ads for cosmetics sometimes hint of magical ingredients, chemical analyses show that the products in any category—lipsticks, face creams, deodorants—are basically similar in composition.”
Interestingly, often cosmetics companies consign the manufacture of their products to the same outside factory and then do the marketing themselves, which means that only the names and packaging have been changed, since many competing cosmetics are identical. This practice will not hurt your health, just your pocketbook.
Be on guard, for many terms used in the promotion and labeling of cosmetics are not well defined. One ad may claim that the product is a “rich emollient.” Rich in what? Or what about “medicated” cosmetics? There is no legal definition for “medicated,” and at present it means anything the manufacturer wishes. And what of those “deep-cleaning” products? The Medically Based No-Nonsense Beauty Book answers: “There is absolutely no substance available that reaches down into plugged pores and cleans them out. Don’t believe any ad that claims this feat for its product.” The FDA suggests you take such terms “with a grain of salt.”
What about hypoallergenic cosmetics? The prefix “hypo” means “less,” so hypoallergenic simply means less allergenic. Consumers’ Research Magazine reported the FDA as saying: “There is now no regulation specifically defining or governing the use of ‘hypoallergenic’ or similar terms. Consumers concerned about allergic reactions from cosmetics should understand one basic fact: There is no such thing as a ‘nonallergenic’ cosmetic—that is, a cosmetic that can be guaranteed never to produce an allergic reaction.”
Other terms are carefully chosen for truth of advertising. According to Money magazine, you may see such terms as line “smoother” or wrinkle “prevention,” but you will not see wrinkle “removers.” Products containing a sunscreen have an ultraviolet-absorbing chemical that can help “prevent” premature wrinkles due to sun exposure. Existing wrinkles can be ‘smoothed’ out—made less noticeable—by creams containing petrolatum or collagen. Petrolatum coats the skin so that reflection from light makes small creases less obvious. Collagen will do the same and, when it dries on the skin’s surface, tightens the skin and temporarily “smooths out” wrinkles—and that is all. Other creams claim to work by plumping up the skin cells, leaving a smoother appearance. So whether you opt to prevent, plump, or polish those wrinkles, the only legitimate wrinkle “remover” is a plastic surgeon!
How Safe Are Those Lips, Lines and Lashes?
The FDA controls the safety of cosmetics, including ingredients, packaging, facilities and proper labeling. As defined by the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938, cosmetics are “for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness.” Since cosmetics are solely for improving one’s looks, the FDA considers them a drug only if they alter a body function. Lipstick is regarded as a cosmetic; antiperspirants are classified as drugs, since manufacturers claim that they block perspiration, or alter a natural body function. Drugs are regulated more strictly than cosmetics.
According to a booklet put out by the FDA, “with the exception of color additives [which must be tested for safety and purity], a cosmetic manufacturer may, on his own responsibility, use essentially any ingredient or market any cosmetic until FDA can demonstrate that it may be harmful to consumers under customary conditions of use.” The agency further states: “Therefore, we cannot say that any cosmetic is absolutely safe, because we have not been provided safety data on all of the individual ingredients, or on the finished product.”
But if a cosmetic manufacturer does not substantiate the safety of his products, he is required by law to put a warning on the label, reading: “WARNING—The safety of this product has not been determined.” Many cosmetic companies, however, voluntarily supply formulas and safety data because they want to offer a good product, and because it is good business.
It is a law that all ingredients be listed on cosmetics in descending order of proportion. The reasons being (1) the consumer has a right to know what is being purchased and (2) this requirement will promote truth in advertising. One advantage of this law is that it enables the consumer to determine more readily the cause of an allergic reaction. Another advantage is that it allows for price-compare shopping. And the consumer can become familiar with ingredients so as to purchase a good product, not just a good ad. This listing does not, however, include individual fragrances, cosmetic flavors or any ingredients that the FDA accepts as the manufacturer’s trade secrets.
When the cosmetic ingredients are tested for safety, how is this done? The Humane Society of the United States says that “every year, between 60 and 100 million animals are used in biomedical programs,” including cosmetics testing. The Draize test is used “to determine the eye irritancy of substances. Drops of soap, perfume, and other common products are put into the eyes of albino rabbits to find out if these things are harmful to human eyes.” Suggested alternatives to this painful type of testing are tissue cultures, computer models and bacteria. Discover magazine says that many scientists feel that “the number of animal experiments eventually can be cut to a fraction of its present size, and that the computer may some day be an excellent substitute for those tests, like the Draize, that do not involve matters of life and death.”
Maquillage or Masquerade?
When asked why she wore makeup, one woman replied that without it she looked like “Death.” Another felt: “Until I have my eyes on, I am invisible. People say: ‘There goes that nice woman with no face.’” Still others feel as this woman does: “I hate makeup. It gives me the creeps—everything turns green on me.”
Whether one chooses to wear makeup or not is, of course, a personal decision. For those who do wear it, remembering the definition of cosmetics helps, namely: For “beautifying, promoting attractiveness.” Do you want to be remembered as the lovely girl with the pretty blue eyes or as the girl with the blue eye shadow?
Or what of the situation where the husband leaned over to his wife, whispering: “Why has that woman done that to her face?” The woman had brown streaks smeared under the cheeks and along the sides of her nose. She had whitish-pink stripes along her cheek and brow bones. The cheeks were hot pink, the lashes laden with globs of mascara, and a purply gloss covered her blackish pencil-lined lips. “She’s got contour makeup on,” the wife answered, recognizing that the woman had faithfully followed the models’ step-by-step procedures for slimming a nose, widening the eyes, and so forth. But what did the end result appear as—a maquillage (makeup) or a masquerade (disguise)?
A feminine woman is charming, gracious. If she does not wear makeup, she is confident without it. If she does wear makeup, she is confident because she wears it with dignity—adding just a touch of definition, a hint of color to enhance her natural features. Just as her speech and clothing make a statement about her, so, too, her makeup. Is the statement kind, gentle, dignified strength; or is it harsh, brash, overpowering? Never should one see the makeup rather than the person. If so, then the only “promoting” being done was smart advertising and not attractiveness.
For you curious, the lovely lady mentioned at the outset of this article was wearing lipstick (castor oil and beeswax), mascara (shellac), and eyeshadow (carmine N.F.—derived from the dried bodies of female cochineal, a bright-red bug akin to mealybugs).
So whether you decide to ‘put your face on’ or wear it au naturel, put on a happy one and smile!
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What difference between the 99c tube of lipstick and the $7.50 tube? “Basically similar,” says a government agency
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Cosmetic Safety Tips
1. All makeup can harbor harmful bacteria, so replenish your supply every four months or so.
2. When you buy a new mascara, always discard the old brush.
3. Wash your hands before applying any makeup.
4. If the makeup calls for water, use water—not saliva.
5. Clean your brushes and makeup tools once a week.
6. Keep eye pencils sharpened to remove bacteria. Clean pencil sharpeners with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
7. Keep containers tightly closed to help prevent contamination or decomposition of the product.
8. Do not share cosmetics; they may be contaminated.
9. Do not use cosmetics on irritated or injured skin.
10. Keep cosmetics away from children.
11. When an adverse reaction occurs, discontinue using the product. If the problem persists, see a physician, giving him the cosmetic container, labeling and directions that came with it.
12. Report to the manufacturer or distributor shown on the label, and to the nearest FDA office, any adverse cosmetic reaction.
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What God’s Word Says About Adornment and Charm
Today’s English Version
Today’s English Version
Today’s English Version