If your cosmetics bag is anything like mine, you’re probably about two lipstick purchases and a BB cream away from needing a support group. Makeup can be one of those guilty pleasures that make a trip to Sephora or your favorite department store cosmetics counter a special treat for creating any look to match your mood for the moment. And while it’s always fun to play dress up and dust on our powders and lash lengtheners, the magic of makeup is needing a serious reality check when we look at exactly what it takes for manufactures to create our much cherished beauty products and how exactly they could be the culprit to the growth of ugly diseases.

In 2002, The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of public health, environmental and consumer groups with a goal to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems and replace them with safer alternatives, released a the report “Not Too Pretty: Phthalates, Beauty Products and the FDA.” After testing 72 name-brand, off the shelf beauty products for the presence of phthalates, The lab found phthalates in nearly three quarters of the products tested, though the chemicals were not listed on any of the labels.

By 2005, the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, in conjunction with the Environmental Working Group, released “Skin Deep: A Safety Assessment of Ingredients in Personal Care Products.” This database allows consumers like you and I to search the safety assessment on more than 10,000 personal care products using the systems online rating evaluation that ranks products on their potential health risks and the absence of basic safety evaluations. If you haven’t checked the health hazard rating on your favorite cosmetics products, now’s the right time to make sure you’re not spreading potentially hazardous chemicals onto your face each day that could end up in your blood stream.

But there is hope my friends! With many people speaking up and out against the cosmetics industry and demanding safer products, in 2011 the Safe Cosmetics Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure that all personal care products are safe by establishing a system to assess the safety of cosmetics ingredients and to phase out the most harmful substances that are suspected of causing cancer, reproductive harm or other adverse health effects.

If you’re a little overwhelmed on getting started to evaluate your products for health hazards, start small by reading your cosmetic labels and identifying the top chemicals linked to cancer and other diseases.

“If we’re not careful, finding the perfect beauty product can come at a cost to our health,” says John Colquhon, author and founder of HungryForChangetv. In his book, HUNGRY FOR CHANGE: Ditch the Diets, Conquer the Cravings, and Eat Your Way to Lifelong Health, co-authored with Laurentine ten Bosch, Colquhon suggests that we steer clear of these 12 harmful ingredients in the cosmetic aisle:

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