Brushing the surface of the makeup industry


Thousands of years in makeup advances may not be enough to remove the health stains these products could cause.

However, makeup is not something that will disappear anytime soon. Because makeup products have transformed throughout history, so have the ingredients. Over the past thousands of years, makeup has progressed from coal and blood stains to eyeshadows and foundation. 

Through these advances comes more caution with the chemicals placed in the makeup now versus what was used previously. 

Makeup has become an important aspect of our society, but some individuals believe these multi-billion dollar industries are concealing some important information about the chemicals within them. 

Lisa Archer, national coordinator for The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, said people are exposed to over 100 different chemicals daily, many of which haven’t been thoroughly tested.

Dr. Douglas Raynie, South Dakota State University assistant professor for the chemistry and biochemistry department, said there are three things to keep in mind when it comes to a chemical’s toxicity: The hazard a chemical may possess, the amount of the chemical you are exposed to over a certain time period and how exposure occurred. 

“There’s an old saying attributed to Paracelsus (a Roman philosopher) that says that everything is a poison,” Raynie said. He claimed it is “all a matter of dose.” 

Dr. Fathi Halaweish, SDSU professor specializing in organic chemistry, said that products labeled as “natural” or “organic” can still be harmful. If the company does not list the composition of these ingredients, Halaweish advises the buyer to stay away. 

“It’s a lot like grocery shopping,” Autumn Simunek , Miss South Dakota 2015, said. “You know what you’re getting when you buy a sugary candy bar, but you should be careful when you buy that ‘healthy, fat free option,’ because it’s most likely been pumped up with bad things to replace everything that was taken out.”

Archer suggested to buy fragrance-free products with a short list of ingredients.

For a more detailed description of certain products, Raynie suggested using the app “Skin Deep”. With this app, Raynie explains that you can type in a product and it will give you an in-depth analysis of the product’s safety. 

As stated by the US National Library of Medicine, the two main forms of eye makeup in Egyptian culture was black kohl, made from a dark gray ore of lead, and green eye paint.

They also used henna to paint their nails and dye their hair and colored clay to stain their cheeks and lips.

Nearly 5,000 years later, makeup has transformed into a powerful and growing industry.

Isabella Garcia, Miss South Dakota State University 2016, explained how she began wearing makeup daily in sixth grade. “I guess I started wearing it because it’s what everyone else was doing,” she said.

Garcia is not the only individual to feel the need to wear makeup due to others around her. The US National Library of Medicine stated that the history of those who wore makeup in ancient times “were as preoccupied with the aesthetics of appearance as individuals are today.” 

Simunek said this industry has a major impact on young women. “Unfortunately, society does push young girls to create a new tradition of feeling that they must wear it (makeup).”

“Find what makes you feel the most confident about yourself whether that is a whole face of makeup, or a clean fresh face,” Simunek said. “It’s up to you and only you to decide who you are.”