It always feels great to meet ‘that special someone’ who is driven by unbound energy, creativity and passion in educating people about ingredients present in beauty products, telling us the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ of this massive and many a times mind boggling cosmetic world. I felt like I’d met a friendly ‘skin-encyclopedia’ after talking to Charmaine Cianciullo, the host of the fabulous video beauty blog, Glamology.
Sheetal: What triggered Glamology into existence? What goals do you want to achieve with this fabulous ‘Green is the new Pink’ site?
Charmaine: I grew up with very sensitive and acneic skin and for most of my life I had always assumed it was due to genetics, hormones, or the weather. After working in the beauty industry for 8 years as an esthetician and skincare therapist; I learned a lot about the human body, skincare ingredients, and the cosmetic industry as a business. I was shocked to discover that the cosmetic industry is largely unregulated by any federal safety agency and many of my beauty products contained dozens of untested, toxic and harmful chemical ingredients like parabens, pthalates, formaldehyde releasing chemicals, heavy metals and lead. Not only were these harsh chemicals exasperating my skin condition but also poisoning my body, and that of my clients, friends, family and coworkers. Now I try to help educate and enlighten others on becoming aware of the dangers of conventional skincare products and suggest alternatives which are effective without long-term health risks.
Sheetal: Which beauty/ skincare ingredients do you think will make waves in the beauty industry in 2012 and why?
Charmaine: Argan oil, which has been my favorite ingredient for years, is just starting to gain popularity. It’s a fast absorbing oil that is rich in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids. The plant sterols active in argan oil have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which make it safe for all skin types and can naturally treat acne, eczema and other skin conditions. It also improves skin’s collagen and elasticity; which is why argan oil is great for preventing and reducing fine lines, wrinkles and stretch marks. Argan oil is only produced organically and fair trade from the kernels of argan tree fruit in Morocco. You can buy a small jar of argan oil and use it as a face moisturizer and eye treatment at night – it’s light weight and won’t clog pores.
Sheetal: What are your beauty resolutions for 2012?
Charmaine: My resolution is to work extra hard to help people become more aware and educated of what ingredients are in their cosmetic and personal care products. It’s all about making the best decisions possible but when we don’t have all the information we can’t do that.
Sheetal: Could you share 5 expert tips on how to shop organic skincare?
Charmaine: Don’t read labels; learn to read ingredients. Unlike the food industry, there are no laws for words like “natural”, “organic”, “herbal” on beauty product labels. Many products advertise with these in their name but may still contain synthetic petrochemicals, toxins, and harsh preservatives. Don’t trust labels, they’re just a marketing gimmick. Ingredients in a product are the most important thing to look at. It’s impossible to memorize all the hazardous ingredients to avoid but as a rule of thumb – if you can’t pronounce it; it likely to be toxic. The most common toxic ingredients in skincare products you may want to avoid are: Butyl Acetate, Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), Coal Tar, Cocamide DEA/Lauramide DEA, Diazolidinyl Urea, Ethyl Acetate, Formaldehyde, Fragrance, Parabens (methyl, ethyl, propyl and butyl), Petrolatum (petroleum jelly), Phthalates, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Laureth/Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Talc, Toluene, Triethanolamine (TEA).
2. Choose products that do not contain “fragrance” or “parfume”. Fragrance is found in many products like shampoos, deodorants, lotions, and shaving creams. By law companies don’t have to disclose what chemicals are in “fragrance”. But most often fragrance contains hundreds of potentially hazardous ingredients which are likely to be toxic to the brain, endocrine, and immune system. Look for products that do not contain the word “fragrance”, instead choose products that use natural essential oils. Be aware that some products may say “un-scented” but still contain fragrance to cover up the other chemical scents.
3. Buy only cruelty-free products. Testing products on animals is torture and shouldn’t even be required if the product doesn’t contain potentially harmful ingredients. Make sure that the products you buy clearly advertise that they have not been tested on animals. Look for the PETA “cruelty free” or leepingbunny.org logos on the packaging.
4. Use water-based nail polish instead of conventional polish and remover. Conventional nail polish and removers contain toxic chemicals like toluene and formaldehyde which are linked to cancer, reproductive harm, birth defects, and other negative health effects. Try water-based nail polish and removers which are odor free and have a very low hazardous rating.
5. Use the Internet to research the safest of your products. The best website for researching cosmetic safety is The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database (cosmeticdatabase.org) – you can search by ingredient or product and get a detailed profile of health concern and referenced medical studies. You can also view lists of alternative non-toxic beauty products as well.
Sheetal: What do you think of mySkin.com?
Charmaine: I am a fan of any website that promotes discussion of skincare and awareness of skin health. mySkin.com is wonderful because it gathers product reviews and ratings from real people with similar skin concerns and allows users to discover products that work well for their skin type. There’s also a great user forum where users can ask skin care questions and discuss product experiences.
Its been a ‘skincare revelation’ talking to the charming Charmaine :). I for one, now know how to shop green from the beauty aisles!
Charmaine Cianciullo is an organic esthetician, an activist for safe cosmetics, and the host of the popular video beauty blog Glamology – on which she discusses green beauty tips, products, and DIY beauty recipes. She is also the owner of Peppermint Organic Spa and mintanberry.com – an organic esthetic salon and online eco beauty boutique.
Note: All views expressed in this Q&A are the personal opinions of Charmaine. mySkin.com doesn’t favor any particular skincare brand or take advertising from any of them. Our scientific algorithm is entirely unbiased based on your skin profile.