Confessions of a Beauty Junkie.



I am an addict. I suffer from the same disease most Americans suffer from.  Reckless Consumerism. Like many of you, I work hard to make more money to buy more things, some of which I don’t need. I also have spent good portion of my career helping clients sell products to consumers, some of which they didn’t need.


I have acquired a name over the years in NYC as a copywriter and creative director who can spin desire for all things beauty related and engage women’s emotions – a niche I found myself in after doing a few successful ad campaigns for large beauty brands. I know how to wrap up a claim up in a nice package inside of a big idea, so it moves products off shelves. I am skillful at skirting legal issues with well-crafted copy when it comes to efficacy or health risks associated with “product benefits”. I can get a woman’s attention with beautiful imagery and close the deal in 5 words or less. I’ve hired top fashion photographers and directors to photograph and film models with flawless skin and hair to sell women products full of neurotoxins. Some of these products were tested on animals. I’ve worked with post production houses to retouch models’ flawlessness to make them more flawless. Yes, I’ve done it all in the name of “Beauty”.


This is my Ugly Truth. I am part of an industry and a culture of consumers, sometimes unaware and oftentimes intentionally turning a blind eye to what we are putting in and on our bodies and on what we are perpetuating in society by making unconscious products, purchases and messages – a broken system called Capitalism. One that is consuming our natural resources faster than the earth can replenish them. One that is robbing us of our health. And our innate Beauty.


But in the end, try as I may to right my path, I am not 100%. And far from it. While I fight the urge to shop for things I don’t need on most days, I can, in an off moment, be sucked into a Sephora by the shiny, glimmering displays and a fabulous makeup artist who catches my eye, brandishing the latest shiny eyelash wand and dropping the casual offer for a quick “touch up”. Cut to me with a total makeover minus $327.00, walking out of the store, feeling pretty on the outside and ignoring that hankering on the inside – the one caused by knowing too much and that inevitable crash of a junkie.


Then there’s that tiny black bag – the contents of which seem to burn a hole in it until I get home and feverishly unpack it. I replace all the dusty, fingerprinted, partially unused items in my makeup bag with all the shiny, new powders, creams, shellacs, lengtheners, thickeners, plumpers, bronzers, outliners, highlighters, brighteners, primers, none of which I will finish, and all of which I sample immediately. I find clever ways to justify my purchases to myself (and to my significant other or accountant, if they bust me). One of my favorite justifications is “It’s research I need to do for my business”. While this has a grain of truth to it, most of the time I’m either just bored, curious or I need a quick fix of retail therapy because I’m having a bad week.


While I have a fairly keen internal toxicity radar which scans every label it can find for harmful chemicals, ingredients and toxins like dioxane, dieththyl phthalate, formaldehyde, alcohol, parabens, heavy metals, dyes, etc., I still throw caution to the wind at times, especially when it comes to cosmetics. Let’s face it, it’s nearly impossible to know what’s in most makeup or what can be considered “clean” or “organic” because the cosmetic industry is pretty much self-regulated. If you’re wise and interested, you can investigate products on the Environmental Working Group’sSkin Deep Cosmetic Database“, but boy does that take all the fun out of shopping when you find out the next new miracle cream is laced with toxic matter.


According to an article in Smart Money, Americans spent $33.9 billion on cosmetics alone in 2010. Things haven’t changed much since then. As well, the cosmetic industry has no problem spending a fraction of that every year lobbying to squelch bills like the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act so they don’t get passed. Why do you think the European Union has banned 1200 chemicals from use in their beauty products, and the US has only banned 10? Sound familiar?  Look at Europe’s gun safety laws compared to ours. Washington is being bought on every level, from bullets to beauty. And all of it is killing us – whether it’s an instant taking of human life or a more drawn out death by small dosages of poison daily.


Lipstick Wearers, here’s a helpful tidbit. 400 lipsticks tested positive for lead, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  But unless you personally take your lipstick to a lab and have it tested, there’s no way to find out if you’re putting lead on your lips, and therefore into your body. Lead is a cheap way to make colors like bright red pop. It’s also a cheap way to give yourself a wide range of health issues.


I try to buy cosmetics from small companies that I’ve read up on that are for the most part mineral and/or plant based, but I can sacrifice my standards when I must have things like the bright purple Chanel mascara. That said, I’m more discerning than most shoppers because I’m neurotic and constantly devour anti-establishment health articles, which keeps me in relative check. And yet, I STILL have an addiction to trying new things and a lack of patience when it comes to finishing my old things.


So what’s a junkie to do? Faced with this paradox of the beast within, and the business and lifestyle I’m out to promote, I hereby declare myself on an official BEAUTY FAST. As part of this fast, I’ll be using every beauty and personal care item in my cabinet before I buy another to replace it. Could be a couple of years before I go through it all, but that’s my commitment. The only caveat, if I discover one of these products contains ingredients I can’t abide by, I’ll find a way to properly dispose of the toxic waste rather than use it. Funny, there’s a guide for disposing of CFL lightbulbs and mercury thermometers, but no guide for disposing of carcinogenic makeup.


Stay tuned for future blog postings in this new series entitled:  Confessions of a Beauty Junkie


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