Why Your Makeup Is More Harmful Than You Think

08/09/2013 05:01 pm ET | Updated Aug 09, 2013
Getty

Navigating the natural, eco-friendly beauty world can be pretty daunting. Where does one start? What ingredients are safe? Do you have to shop at certain stores? What does natural even mean?

That's why we enlisted celebrity makeup artist and green beauty expert Katey Denno to come by our offices and give us the lowdown on how to make strides to reduce one's toxin load -- a "Natural Beauty For Dummies" course, if you will. Denno is responsible for the red carpet glows of Amanda Seyfried, Christy Turlington, Olivia Wilde and more top stars, so you can imagine how eager we were to get her expert take.

To start you on your own quest for green beauty, we decided to present you with the most surprising takeaways:

How your products could be harming you:

1. Out of 1,000 carcinogens the EU has banned, the US has only banned 9 of them.

2. Scientists have only "improved" upon all of the chemicals used in our beauty products, making the particles both smaller and stronger. This means they're more easily absorbed into the skin and past the protective layers that once served as a barrier to these toxins.

3. Safe beauty products should have an expiration date, just like the food you ingest. According to Katey, most regular, non-natural products are like "bomb shelter food" in that they have extended shelf lives -- just imagine what chemicals are in there to make them last that long.

4. Terms like "herbal," "organic" and "natural" on beauty packaging aren't regulated and have no actual meaning. Trust us, there's not one "herb" in Herbal Essences shampoo.

5. Not all natural sunscreens are created equal. Ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide might make your sunscreen safer and more effective at protecting against UV rays, but some leave more of a white residue than others. Test out a bunch and find your favorite. (Here are Katey's top picks.)

6. When it comes to antiperspirant, you may want to consider going for the less potent, natural options. When you shave your armpits, you're scrapping off a layer of skin -- and then you apply the carcinogenic-filled deodorant right onto the vulnerable area right near your lymph nodes. Yikes!

All these things may sound really scary, but that's why we have natural beauty products, ones that are created from safe, non-toxic ingredients that are naturally occurring. Phew.

What you need to know about natural beauty:

1. The green world may not have caught up with the mainstream market world of cosmetics in all product realms (though Kjaer Weis' colors and packaging are stunning), but natural skincare products are just as effective (if not more effective) as the best regular products. So that might be the best place to start.

2. The downside to committing to a green beauty cabinet? Just like with organic food, it's generally more expensive to buy natural grooming products.

3. Even though oils have become the crowd-pleaser when it comes to natural beauty, make sure you figure out the right system for you. Those with rosacea must be careful when using harsh essential oils or oils with too many natural active components, while those suffering from acne can treat zits with tea tree oil. (Katey recommends applying tea tree oil to a Q-tip and diluting with water, as to not kill cells.)

4. You don't have to go green on every single product if you simply can't find a green product comparable to your non-green favorite -- Katey prefers Cover Girl mascara to any of the natural ones around. She says that natural beauty companies face a tough challenge when it comes to competing with regular mascaras on the market.

5. Confused? Go to safecosmetics.org or ewg.com/skindeep to suss out which exact products are chemical-free.

6. Most importantly, pick your battles. Don't drive yourself crazy by overhauling your entire beauty regime. Start slowly and see what makes the biggest difference in your life and well-being.

Have any more questions? Stop by Katey Denno's fantastic blog for all things natural beauty.

Maybe these guys could've gone green instead...

Worst Celebrity Beauty Looks

Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram at @HuffPostStyle.

CONVERSATIONS