Category: Beauty

Are there any cosmetics in Canadian drug stores that have been proven safe?

Sherry Lamb in Toronto asks: “Are there any widely-available cosmetics in big drug stores in Canada that have been proven non-carcinogenic?”  Globe Health reporter Carly Weeks says, “There is no end in sight to the debate over the potential toxicity of mascara, lipstick and other cosmetics. Mainly that’s because there are few clear answers about the long-term health effects of many of the ingredients used to make those products.”

But is there a way for concerned consumers to minimize their exposure to potentially harmful substances in moisturizers, nail polish, eyeliner and other products? Weeks explains:

Health Canada oversees cosmetics, and companies are required to let the department know what ingredients go into their products. Health Canada also maintains a “Hotlist” of substances that are prohibited from being added to cosmetic products. But there are still plenty of other ingredients that can be used to make the perfect pink shade of blush or the best wrinkle-reducing foundation. And many of those substances have never been subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny. In other cases, some research shows that certain ingredients may disrupt hormones or be linked to an increased risk of cancer.

But, as the American Cancer Society notes, simply because an ingredient was flagged as potentially harmful in a study does not mean it causes cancer. For instance, scientists often use high concentrations of a substance to study its effects – concentrations that likely go well beyond what a consumer would be exposed to through normal use of a product. Still, for some consumers, that isn’t good enough.

It’s plausible that in the future, new research will show that low levels of exposure to a certain ingredient over the course of many years could be harmful. Or that an ingredient previously believed to be safe is, in fact, tied to long-term health effects. So what can they do to reduce their exposure to potentially harmful ingredients?

The market for safer, less toxic or all-natural cosmetic products has grown significantly in recent years.  (Read: Do you know how many toxic chemicals are in your shampoo, your lipstick, your toothpaste?)  Plenty of department and drug stores now carry products that claim to be natural and less toxic.

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How effective are lash growth serums? Are they safe?

There are 3 serums that really do work to make both lashes and brows thicker, darker and longer, says The Globe’s beauty expert Bahar Niramwalla. She recommends three kinds: Latisse, RapidLash and Fusion Beauty’s StimuLashFusion Intensive Night Conditioning Lash Enhancer.

Latisse is the most effective of the three, but it is a prescription-only product with the heftiest price tag (between $120 to $160 for a two-month supply). It contains an ingredient derived from a glaucoma medication that caused longer, darker lashes as a side effect. RapidLash is the least expensive but does the job when used on a daily basis for at least four weeks. Fusion Beauty’s serum is very potent and around the $100 mark.

There are possible side effects with these products, such as redness, irritation, darkened skin around the eyes and, in rare cases, discolouration of the eye.

If you have any issues with eye sensitivity, you should consult your doctor or optometrist before use. In most cases, the serums will help to both lengthen and strengthen the lashes so they’re less likely to break during makeup application and removal.

If serums aren’t for you, Bahar Niramwalla offers tips on getting the most out of your mascara.