As some of you know, I had an unusual experience with a Garnier Moisturizer Bomb face mask in May of this year. Now I know what you’re thinking….. why is she using such a commercial product on her sensitive skin? The truth is I just can’t throw things away (even if is less than $5 a packet) so I had to use it up and to be fair, I have used Garnier products in the past without any side effects. However……
The afternoon began with a mini pamper session; I put the face mask on at about 3pm for 15 minutes, as per the instructions on the package, and that night I woke up with a very itchy face. I put some cortisone cream on it and went back to bed. When I got up a few hours later, my face began to get red and swollen. Still very itchy, it also started to become painful, so by the afternoon I went into a walk-in medical clinic and got a prescription for antihistamines and more cortisone cream. The diagnosis was Contact Dermatitis. By the evening my face was so swollen I could hardly see out of my eyes, so we went to the emergency room and 5 hours later I was given another prescription for a week’s worth of antibiotics and one dose of prednisone (a powerful steroid) because the doctor couldn’t believe a commercial face mask could cause such a reaction. He suspected there was an infection developing. Barely sleeping that night, I had to get out of bed because my face was unbearable. Edema (fluid build up) was bulging under my eyes and if I touched my cheek, interstitial fluid eked out. So I went and saw a third doctor at another medical clinic the following morning and pleaded with her to help me. She told me to continue with the antibiotics and to take one prednisone for 4 days. She confirmed the diagnosis was Contact Dermatitis.
It took 10 days for my face to heal and there has been some permanent damage to parts of my face as a result of this. My eldest daughter, Olivia, who has been urging me to change my makeup and beauty products for years, contacted Garnier and told them what had happened. She also did some research and discovered that there were others out there who had the same reaction to this product. After much back and forth, L’Oreal (Garnier) offered to pay for my medication, which was around $40, but did not want to acknowledge the pain and suffering that I had experienced. This journey has brought a lot of awareness regarding the beauty industry to the forefront for me, so I want to share what Olivia and I have discovered because most of us just trust that the FDA and Health Canada have got our backs:
The cosmetic/beauty industry is one of the most under-regulated industries.
•There is outdated government regulations when it comes to cosmetics, that hasn't been updated since 1930 in the US (Canadian regulation is a little more current) Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 finally introduced and awaiting for voting. But there's no pre-market approval requirement for cosmetics to be on sale in US and Canadian markets.
•No legal definitions of “Natural” and Organic Laws are not required to regulate the use of words like “Natural” and “Organic” on cosmetics and personal care products.
•Fragrances are considered trade-secret Manufacturers are not required to disclose specific fragrance ingredients on the product label. Instead, the generic term parfum is listed, representing a mixture of potentially dozens of chemicals.
What can we do about it?
•Upload the Think Dirty App on to your phone. The next time you are going to make a cosmetic or beauty purchase, look up the product on this app and it will rate its toxicity and provide you with a list of the ingredients it contains. If a product isn’t listed in the database, users are encouraged to scan the bar code and submit the product for review to the Think Dirty team ( Some product ingredients have been linked to cancer)
•Watch this short film The Story of Cosmetics
Use our Purchasing Power
•As a result of my experience, Olivia posted pictures and blogged about my experience and was spotted by someone from Beauty Counter, an online cosmetic and beauty site that sells low toxicity cosmetics and beauty products . They asked her to become a representative for them, she accepted and makes a small commission from them, so if you use Beauty Counter products, please go through her at beautycounter.com.
•Major retailers are selling toxic beauty products. Ask that they clean up their cosmetic aisles - London Drugs, Sephora, Loblaws, just to name a few.
•Contact Health Canada to voice your opinion on toxic cosmetics Health Canada
•Lobby the cosmetic companies – tell them how you feel and request that they clean up their products. Garnier falls under the largest cosmetic umbrella of L’Oreal (Maybelline does as well). Others include Proctor and Gamble (Cover Girl, Olay, Head and Shoulders), Estee Lauder, Unilever (Dove, Lux, Vaseline). These companies need to come clean on any carcinogenic or toxic ingredients in their products that have been identified as causing cancer or hormone disruption to keep the general public safe.