How Informed Are You About Cosmetics and Skin Care Products?

May 29, 2008

Do you think that you are well-informed about cosmetics and skin care products? Test your knowledge by answering the True or False questions below, and then read the answers to see how well you did.

  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve all cosmetics before they go on the market.
  2. Using mascara the wrong way can cause eye injuries and infections – even blindness.
  3. It’s fine to use hair dyes on your eyebrows and eyelashes, after all, they’re hair too.
  4. “Cruelty free” or “not tested on animals” means that no animal testing was done on the product and its ingredients.
  5. If a product is labeled “all natural” or “organic”, it’s probably hypoallergenic.
  6. Even if a product is labeled “hypoallergenic”, it may contain substances that can cause allergic reactions.
  7. Choosing products with the claim “Dermatologist Tested” is a way to avoid an allergic reaction or other skin irritation.


  1. False. Unlike drug companies, cosmetic companies may use almost any ingredient they choose, with these exceptions:
    • Regulations specifically prohibit or restrict the use of the certain ingredients in cosmetics, for example, chloroform and prohibited cattle materials cannot be used in cosmetics, while the use of mercury compounds is restricted to eye area products in small concentrations.
    • All color additives must be approved for their intended use. For example, a particular color additive may only be used in an eye shadow if it is approved for cosmetic use, including the area of the eyes. Many colors have to be “certified” by FDA. That means that samples from each batch must pass special testing for purity in FDA’s own labs before they may be used.
    • If a product or its ingredients have not been shown to be safe, the product is supposed to have this warning statement on the label: “Warning: The safety of this product has not been determined.”
  2. True. The most serious risk from mascara is scratching your eye with the mascara wand, and then getting an infection from germs on the wand. To use mascara safely, follow these rules:
    • Never apply mascara in a car, bus, plane or any other moving vehicle. It’s easy to scratch your eye if you hit a bump or come to a sudden stop.
    • If mascara gets dried up, don’t add water or – even worse – (yuck) spit into it to moisten it. This can add germs that may grow and cause an infection.
    • As mascara gets old, it is more likely to have germs growing in it. Throw it out after three months.
    • Don’t share mascara – not even with your best friend. You might be sharing germs that way.
    • Remove all mascara, and any other make-up, before you go to bed. Bits of mascara can flake into your eyes and cause an infection.
  3. False. Never use hair dyes on the eyebrows and eyelashes. Doing this can cause blindness. There are approved, safe colors for mascara and eyebrow pencils, but no hair dyes are approved for tinting or dyeing the eyebrows or eyelashes.
  4. False. Cosmetic companies can use the terms “cruelty free” or “not tested on animals” because there are no legal definitions for these terms. Even if a product never was tested in animals, there’s a very good chance its ingredients were. A company might call its products “cruelty free” because it isn’t doing any animal testing on these ingredients now, although the ingredients may have been tested on animals in the past. In some cases, “no new animal testing” might be a more accurate claim.
  5. False. Poison ivy is all natural, too, but you would never want to rub it on your skin. It is very possible to have an allergic reaction, or other irritation, from products labeled “all natural” or “organic.” For example, lanolin, from sheep’s wool, is a natural ingredient in some moisturizers that can cause an allergic reaction.
  6. True. Individuals may be allergic to any ingredient. According to the cosmetic industry, “hypoallergenic” means “less likely to cause an allergic reaction.” But dermatologists – and consumers who have allergies – know that the word “hypoallergenic” on the label is no guarantee against an allergic reaction.
  7. False.  “Dermatologist tested” doesn’t really tell you much, does it? Did the dermatologist work for the manufacturer? How many people was the product tested on? How long did the testing last? What were the results of the testing?
So, how did you do? If you feel brave enough, please share your score and comments below- I will share mine.



  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Cosmetics



4 Responses to “How Informed Are You About Cosmetics and Skin Care Products?”

  1. Well, I got a 6 out of 7, for my score. However, a couple of the questions were worded so I could guess what the answers would be. I did learn a few things that I did not know before. For instance, I just figured that hair dye was safe for any hair, and I would not have guessed that it could cause blindness, if used on the eyebrows or eyelashes, although I am not surprised.

  2. cote said

    unfortunately most people don;t take the time to figure these things out before using.

    Avon Rep”

  3. eye shadows that are waterproof are great and i always use them*~”

  4. hey, I just wanted to say that I appreciate all the content that you have here. Please continue the great work as I will be checking back again.

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