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.