1. Cosmetics can cause skin problems

    How makeup can wreck your face

    Ladies, if you're fond of your cosmetics, I've got some news that might have you throwing some of them right out the window: Most skin creams, lotions and makeups contain more chemicals than a science lab. And rather than helping your skin, many of these products can cause skin problems.

    And yes, unfortunately that includes many of the brands with natural-sounding names and even some of the brands that use the word "natural" as part of the name.

    This isn't just misleading. It's dangerous -- because these chemical ingredients are responsible for a growing number of outbreaks of hives, rashes, redness, swelling and more skin problems.

    Some of the worst-of-the-worst ingredients in many cosmetics are chemical preservatives, and two of the most dangerous are found in some of the most popular and common product lines.

    They're called MI and MCI/MI, and British dermatologists say these two chemicals alone are responsible for a sharp rise in the number of cases of acute dermatitis over the past three years.

    If you haven't had a breakout yet, don't consider yourself in the clear. You could develop a sudden sensitivity -- and next thing you know, a cosmetic you've used without incident for years could make your face look like the surface of Mars.

    Even worse, since your skin cream has never caused skin problems before, you might not even suspect it -- and keep using it, unknowingly making the condition even worse.

    Some are calling on cosmetics companies to ditch MI and MCI/MI, but of course they're dragging their feet and insisting these ingredients are safe.

    Clearly, they're not.

    On the other hand, these two preservatives are hardly the worst ingredients in many cosmetics -- because some of the other stuff you're rubbing into your skin could potentially contribute to skin problems from minor skin irritation to major diseases such as cancer.

    So take a moment or two to learn about what's really in your cosmetics. I recommend the "Skin Deep" Web site from Environmental Working Group, which explains the ingredients and their risks, and even gives safety ratings for thousands of common cosmetics.

    You can search their database for your own cosmetics right here.

    If you find any with dangerous chemicals, make a switch to something safer. And while you're making changes, consider ditching another common source of irritating and even toxic chemicals: perfume.

    Try natural essential oils instead.

  2. Cosmetic chemical linked to diabetes risk

    Your perfume is giving you diabetes

    Most people don't need any help getting diabetes -- it's a condition you can get easily enough on your own.

    But you could be getting a big boost anyway, and not from your diet alone.

    Phthalates are chemicals found all over the home. But since they're especially common in cosmetics and perfumes, women get some of the highest levels of exposure -- and they face some of the highest risks as a result.

    Now, a new study of 2,350 women finds that those with the highest levels of two common phthalates -- mono-benzyl phthalate and mono-isobutyl phthalate -- have almost double the risk of diabetes when compared to women with the lowest levels.

    But you don't need high levels of exposure to face high risks.

    Women who simply have above-average levels of another phthalate, called mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate, have a 60 percent higher risk of diabetes than those with lower levels.

    And women with moderately high levels of mono-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate have a 70 percent increase in risk, according to the data in Environmental Health Perspectives.

    Don't waste your time trying to remember all those chemical names. Just remember that phthalates as a class are known endocrine disrupters linked to a long and growing list of serious health problems. So far, studies have linked them to cancer, weight gain, thyroid problems, and more.

    And since they mimic estrogen inside the body, they can feminize men, cause breast growth in boys, and early puberty in girls.

    They've also been linked to asthma, and another new study makes the connection again in children, finding that kids with the highest levels of these chemicals have higher levels of inflammation in the airways.

    Clearly, it's important to keep these chemicals away from everyone in your family -- especially the youngest members of your household.

    But it's getting harder than ever to accomplish that.

    Like I said earlier, they're all over your home -- in your cosmetics, shampoo, and even your flooring. Until recently, they were in children's toys. And one recent study even found high levels of them in new backpacks and lunchboxes featuring popular children's characters.

    Cutting your exposure is going to take some doing -- but I'd say it's worth the effort.

    One easy place for women to start: Replace chemical perfumes with essential oils.

  3. New risks linked to common chemicals

    Chemicals such as BPA and triclosan are everywhere -- but they're both dangerous, and new research identifies even more risks.

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