Cosmetic Quiz - Test Your Skin Savvy (cont.)

Here are some more facts about tattoos:

  • FDA has not approved any color additives for injection into your skin.
  • People who get a tattoo should not give blood for a year afterward because of the chance of infection.
  • Although it happens only very rarely, some people may have an allergic reaction to the dyes used for tattooing. Imagine being allergic to something that's been injected into your skin.
  • Or, the tattooist may make a mistake. Who wants to wear someone else's mistake forever?

Speaking of forever, how often do you change your mind about your hair, your earrings, or the clothes you like to wear? It's not so easy when you change your mind about a tattoo.

EXTRA BONUS INFO! Although many "temporary tattoos" are legal, some -- especially some of those imported from other countries -- are illegal in the United States because they use color additives that are not approved for use on the skin. FDA has had reports of people having allergic reactions to temporary tattoos.

What about henna temporary tattoos? Henna is a brown to reddish brown dye made from a plant. It is approved only for use on the hair, not the skin. If it is black, or any other color besides brown or reddish brown, it contains other ingredients. It also may contain other ingredients to make the stain darker, make the skin absorb the color more easily, or make the stain last longer.

Could these ingredients hurt you? It depends. Individuals are different and may be sensitive to different things. If you don't know what the ingredients are, it's impossible to tell what they might do if you put them on your skin.

  1. Question: "Cruelty Free" or "Not Tested in Animals" means that no animal testing was done on the product and its ingredients.

False: 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.

  1. "Hypoallergenic" triple-header
    1. If a product is labeled "All Natural" or "Organic," it's probably hypoallergenic.

    False: Remember, poison ivy is all natural, too! But you probably don't want 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 common natural ingredient in some moisturizers that sometimes causes allergic reactions.

    1. Even if a product is labeled "Hypoallergenic," it may contain substances that can cause allergic reactions.

    True: After all, people are individuals. And there's no telling what any individual may be allergic to. 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.

    1. Choosing products with the claim "Dermatologist Tested" is a way to avoid an allergic reaction or other skin irritation.

    False: "Dermatologist tested" doesn't really tell you much, does it? It leaves you wondering about things like:

    • 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?

SOURCE: Federal Drug Administration, "How Smart Are You About Cosmetics?"

Last Editorial Review: 12/9/2008

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