Made-up: Parabens.

People do love their flawed science and urban legends.  They latch on to them and get downright aggressive when challenged. This is true even when it comes to makeup. I have run into this myth so often, that just mentioning it elicits an almost Pavlovian response from me. I may have ground down one of my molars by patiently grinning through yet another moment when a chain-letter educated customer wanted to dig in and loudly debate over ingredients, but not listen to the actual science from people who are trained to know it. After all, what good is thousands of dollars in education, years in the field, and daily working product knowledge when compared to an email in all caps sent from an AOL account to their entire address book?

"Enter"? Are you sure about that?

First up in "Made-up", parabens. Parabens are the boogeyman of the makeup world. I remember when the endless email forwards arrived, telling me that parabens=cancer. Suddenly we realized that we were using products every day that were hiding in our medicine cabinets, waiting for the perfect moment to ninja in, attack our breasts, and kill us with cancer. That's scary stuff right? Wrong. It was all based off of a single massively flawed study and a giant heap of paranoia. 

You know what IS scary? Bacterial or fungal growth in products leading to infections, unstable shelf lives, and spending half a day's wages on a product that I'll soon have to chuck in the trash due to ineffective preservation. That's what you have without parabens. Parabens are gentle to the skin and products including them are among the safest cosmetics you can buy. Some brands have given in to the paranoia and phased them out, but the length of time that the product will remain safe for use was drastically reduced. That is good news for a makeup company, since you'll have to buy their product more frequently, but it is bad news for your pocketbooks.

Kevin James Bennett addresses the paranoia in this article. Read it. Listen to him. He's a smart guy. I am so glad I discovered his writing and attended his demonstrations back when I was first starting out. He was a good guide and helped me avoid many pitfalls. In other words, I trust him to know his stuff, and so should you.

For an additional take on the subject, here is Paula Begoun, the "Cosmetics Cop". Her ingredient dictionary is well-known and goes into great detail about the products we use. She's got the science to back her up. 

What do professionals in the field of Cancer research say?

Please, for the love of all things beautiful, correct this myth when you hear it. Send your well-meaning aunties to these sites when they forward an email on to you. Your long-suffering makeup artist will thank you.

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