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Are You Absorbing Five Pounds of Makeup This Year?

FabSugar just sent me a news article claiming that the body absorbs almost five pounds of makeup per year. Yikes! Here's more from the story:

Many [women] use more than 20 different beauty products a day striving to look their best while nine out of 10 apply make-up which is past its use by date.

Dependence on cosmetics and toiletries means that a cocktail of 4lb 6oz of chemicals a year is absorbed into the body through the skin.

I can't wrap my head around the notion of absorbing five pounds' worth of cosmetics. My medicine cabinet is overflowing with products, but I'm trying to figure out if it's even possible that I apply five pounds of makeup each year. It seems like a lot, doesn't it? For more about this statistic—and to find out why I'm not entirely convinced of its accuracy—

Seems like I'm not the only one who thought the five-pound statistic was odd. A little sleuthing suggests that the researcher who made this claim is also the founder of an site selling chemical-free, organic cosmetics. Some people might say that's a coincidence, while cynics might say that the research is biased. I fall in the latter category; while I'm no cheerleader for chemicals, I'm not sure about these claims. Still, the story was a good reminder that natural products are often just as lovely as traditional ones.

What do you think about this story and the five-pound claim? Are you concerned about chemicals in the products you use, or do you not worry about it?

Join The Conversation
Chiquita-82 Chiquita-82 9 years
That's freaky, i hope it's not true :(
Miss-Fritzie Miss-Fritzie 10 years
I have always been conscious of what I put on my body. It is just common sense that tells me what I apply gets absorbed. That is the point of lotion etc. is it not?
bonbonfay bonbonfay 10 years
Bella - if you don't mind me asking...what kind of natural deoderant have you found to work well? I'm not a fan of all the crap in the traditional kind, but haven't found a natural kind that works as good! Thanks for the info!
JLew1982 JLew1982 10 years
I'm not going to waste time worrying about it, as long as I look good!
jmmst49 jmmst49 10 years
I defintely think the 5 lbs theory is exaggerated but I do know that the skin absorbs pretty much anything you put on it. Granted natural would be the way to go when it comes to making sure it is healthy but one would have to use a huge amount of products for any harm to happen. If you ever get a topical prescription for the skin, read the information that comes with it. It always says how the kidneys can possibly be effected because the kidneys filter the blood and therefore would filter the drugs you put on your skin. Make up and lotions, it seems to be, would be no different.
crispet1 crispet1 10 years
Thats kinda freaky.
Raewitmer Raewitmer 10 years
I would guess most of this makeup is "eaten" (lipstick, Gloss, etc.), and "inhaled" (powders) But even if we do ingest it, I doubt that todays makeups and products are all that harmful. Obviously, there are some exceptions, but, most Beauty and cosmetic companies are trying to go as natural as possible. Beauty companies realize that we, as consumers, are becoming increasingly aware of what we put on, and into our bodies. They have to adjust their products accordingly if they want to compete in todays market. Absorbing chemicals from makeup may have been a concern 10 years ago, but in this day and age, I highly doubt that it's an issue!
sartorialgal sartorialgal 10 years
poetess poetess 10 years
I am extremely biased, so some may want to close their ears when I say this, but I have conducted extensive research on this topic and written a paper on it as well and all that I will relay is that the cosmetic and fragrance industry is one of the least regulated. Dr. Weil is an excellent source of info on these types of things.
Daisy6264 Daisy6264 10 years
I wear eye shadow, liner and lipstick..A little blush.
desodaro desodaro 10 years
Well I'm pretty certain I don't absorb five pounds of makeup a year...but I probably but at least thirty five pounds, ha...I do believe in the absorption of products through the skin, and have to read products very carefully for ingredients because certain things that the cosmetics world uses as miracle ingredients are actually toxic to my health. I think this just serves as a reminder than you have to be as aware of what you put on your body as what you put in it, I say this as someone who has nearly died (not kidding) from acne medication.
sapphiresecret sapphiresecret 10 years
I certainly hope thats not true! I use a lot of makeup, and after every shower I slather on scented body cream. I sometimes wonder whether my body is absorbing these things, but I think maybe its best not to think about it..cause I'm not giving up these things any time soon.
hellosdkitty hellosdkitty 10 years
Quick question, if skin doesn't absorb what we put on it how do things like the birth control patch work?
lovealways lovealways 10 years
If that includes stuff like lotions and creams then it makes more sense. Still sounds exaggerated though.
Desirella Desirella 10 years
I was reading this article on another website and while it's scary, it may not actually be true. Yes, our skin does absorb SOME stuff but this article makes our skin sound like a sponge which it is not. A better explanation or debunking of this article can be found on, just scroll down.
vogue92 vogue92 10 years
Yikes! Five pounds seems like a lot... I figure I ingest lipstick/gloss/balm considering I "eat" away at it through the day. Five pounds worth? Definitely not.
j-adore2 j-adore2 10 years
cosmetics & toiletries...I think that includes a lot of things other than just makeup. I think it might include lotions and stuff too?
rubialala rubialala 10 years
I don't worry about it.
Daisie Daisie 10 years
I can absorption with moisturizers and SPF lotions, even my lip balm! But makeup? 5 pounds? How does this explain all the crap that comes off on those cleansing cloths when I take makeup off? The guy said this "We have no idea what these chemicals do when they are mixed together". Oh REALLY?!?! Then the heck was all that animal testing for?!?! Pfft. Natural, non animal tested products are better in general but this guy is full of it.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 10 years
That is a trip! Whoa!
sailingstar457 sailingstar457 10 years
personally i don't wear liquid foundation, which probably is the main contributor to all of the weight. if you just wear powder like me or maybe a little tinted moisturizer the weight would probably be a lot less
lemurian lemurian 10 years
The skin does absorb some things applied to it, but not all. Lots of substances used in skin care just sit on the surface, like any one of dozens of petroleum derivatives (mineral oil, petrolatum, glycols, etc.). Unfortunately it is usually the more harmful substances (preservatives, synthetic chemical sunscreens, etc.) that are absorbed. There are mountains of evidence to prove this (not based on the study of cosmetics specifically, just on the permeability of the dermis). Research into what the skin absorbs from cosmetics has received renewed interest since the advancement of 'nano' technology, or the creation of substances that are INTENDED to penetrate the skin. They're being included regularly in department store skincare and cosmetics geared towards 'anti-aging', but haven't been tested in any long-term studies. And there is no federal regulation of cosmetics, so we're basically guinea pigs in that sense :/ However there does seem to be a huge movement towards more inert and 'natural' ingredients, so the alternative is readily available should we be scared to slather ourselves in La Mer and MAC anymore :P Sorry if I repeated anything in the article, I just perused it but have been keeping up with the issue for some time. /end blathering
blubberwhale blubberwhale 10 years
That's completely bogus information. Now I'm probably not going to buy from a natural company that lies like that. Who knows what else they'd lie about?
Candace04 Candace04 10 years
I use Bare Minerals, so I wont be absorbing any of that cakey goopy stuff this year. :)
Sassette Sassette 10 years
The Beauty Brains covered this today too:
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