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Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me: A Unique Guide to Over 30,000 Products, Plus the Latest Skin-Care Research (Completely Revised and Updat Paperback – November 30, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 433 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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Women spend an extraordinary amount of money on cosmetics--$45 billion a year in the U.S. alone. Now in its fourth edition, Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me strikes fear in cosmetics-counter consultants everywhere. First off, Begoun has deconstructed ingredient lists. Ever wonder what methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben are doing in your mascara? And what is diazolidinyl urea? All four are potential irritants, and the latter is a preservative that can release formaldehyde, a class A carcinogen. Buyer beware.

Begoun also lists which companies are cruelty-free and which continue to conduct animal testing. The majority of the book--and that's nearly 800 pages--is devoted to reviews of thousands of cosmetics, from cleansers, foundations, alpha-hydroxy acids, and moisturizers to lip liners, eye shadows, and concealers, all of which Begoun has personally tested. (There are no hair care products listed, as that warrants another book entirely: Don't Go Shopping for Hair Care Products Without Me.)

She's perfectly frank and tells it like it is. (On Revlon's ColorStay Makeup: "goes far beyond the claim of 'It won't come off on him.' It won't come off when you want it to.") You'll learn how to tell when you're being boondoggled by a salesperson, what's overpriced and overhyped, as well as what's overlooked. More than 200 brands are included, along with a helpful summary at the end that lists the best products for each cosmetic category. It should be noted that not only is Begoun a fine consumer advocate, she's also a self-esteem advocate: she mentions time and again that even the best cosmetics won't necessarily improve your life, and that's a point well taken. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Paula Begoun has been reporting on the beauty industry for more than 25 years. Her unique angle on the cosmetics industry has earned her the nickname of "Cosmetics Cop". She is an internationally-recognised authority as a consumer advocate for the beauty industry, and is called on regularly by reporters and producers from television, magazines, and radio. Paula has appeared on hundreds of US talk shows including Oprah, 20/20, Dateline NBC, The View, the Today Show, CBS This Morning, and Good Morning America. Paula Begoun is recognised by women all over the world as the most reliable source for answers to all of their beauty-related questions. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me
  • Paperback: 1000 pages
  • Publisher: Beginning Press; 5th edition (November 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1877988286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1877988288
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 2.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (433 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #712,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am amazed at some of the reviews which demonstrate that some alleged readers didn't read the book very carefully at all. Paula clearly admits that the reviews in her book are her opinions. However, I've been reading her books for over a decade, and her opinions are based on solid, thorough, scientific research NOT funded by anyone other than herself. I don't know of another book that can make that claim. She mixes her opinions with facts that few others dare because she has nothing to lose in the process. When she tells the truth, we all benefit. Articles in women's magazines stand to lose an enormous amount of advertising revenue if any editorials threaten to blow Estee Lauder, Lancome, Clinique, Maybelline, or any cosmetics company that spends literally millions of dollars in ads off their solid gold pedestals. Paula also states quite clearly that if a certain regime or product works for the consumer, then the consumer should stick with it.
However, for the rest of us who need guidance in choosing what is best for our skin and make-up routines, this book is a godsend. She rates products on the ingredients they contain, their effect on the skin, and how well they work. She never claims that all products purchased in a drugstore are as good as those purchased at expensive prices in department stores. She freely acknowledges some poor products that are inexpensive do exist. And she also acknowledges that some poor products which are expensive also exist. In other words, the price of the cosmetic has nothing to do with its effectiveness, safety, or application.
What this book really does is give facts to help the consumer separate fact from fiction.
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Format: Paperback
I'll try to be as thorough as I possibly can in this review.

I'm a pretty big fan of Paula although I don't agree with *everything* she has to say. Being in the skin-care industry myself (I am a bio-chemist) I feel as if I am a little more aware than the average consumer. Some of her research seems dead-on while some seems a little off-base. I'll explain:

Natural ingredients. I happen to be a huge fan of natural ingredients yet Paula, I feel, is way to harsh on companies or products who use such ingredients. As an example, she seems to be a huge fan of mineral oils and petroleum (both biproducts of the oil industry) while I am not. I just don't understand why she uses mineral oil and petroleum as her main moisturizes and praises any formulation that uses them as their main moisturizers. The molecules are simply too large to thoroughly absorb into the pores. They just sit there on the skin and look greasy. On the other hand, plant based oils are lighter in texture, are from natural sources, and are loaded with vitamins. Mineral oil just sits on your skin and clogs the pores.

Essential Oils. When used in moderation (preferably in concentrations of %0.25 - %1) essential oils can work wonders on the skin and, I feel, are much safer to use than their chemical counterparts. Tea tree essential oil, for example, is one of the few things I can use that zaps my blemishes. On the other hand, Paula seems to be a rabid fan of BHA. Although effective, it is just too harsh for most people. She seems to really bash anyone who uses essential oils in their products. These are basically natural plant extracts that have several benefits for the skin and are meant to be dilluted and used only in small amounts.
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Format: Paperback
I used to work selling cosmetic ingredients. Meaning that I didn't work for any particular company, but in selling ingredients via a broker to cosmetic chemists and scientists of major cosmetic corporations. Because of this, I learned a wealth of information that I am not sure the author may have gained, although I do believe she has good intentions.

The major discrepency I would point out at is that petroleum based products are her go-to moisturizer. Petroleum jelly and petro based ingredients are very cheap for companies to use so it's been highly popular. However, it's been banned for use in cosmetics or skin care ingredients in Europe because it's been shown to often carry carcinogens. It does, after all, come from the ground...It is actually currently going through FDA retesting right now in the United States because of this. (Google "petrolatum cosmetic toxin data". It takes waaaay longer to ban something in the US than other countries if it's been shown to cause some problems.) Because of this, any company I sold ingredients to that was big enough to be a world-wide company would not order any petroleum based ingredients because they are banned as toxic overseas already and are expected to be here in the next few years. Yes, petroleum jelly...what people put on their babies in the United States is banned as a skin ingredient elsewhere and expected to be banned here if tests go as expected.

She has her own cosmetics line that uses many controversial, but very cheap ingredients. That bothers me. For example, she is against all-natural and organic ingredients and says so clearly. However, these have been shown in so many cases to not only work better, but be healthier...yet, they are far more expensive for a company to use in manufacturing.
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