By Mary N. DiZazzo

What's in Your Cosmetics?

Ciao bella,

It just makes sense that natural is the way to go. Cosmetics contain so many artificial, toxic and allergic ingredients. We should be more careful what we use on our skin as well as what we ingest in our bodies.

Check your labels!

Watch out for those parabens. They preserve cosmetics and are widely used in almost everything. This chemical preservative can't be safely used in any skincare products that contain collagen, elastic, placenta, hydrolyzed animal protein or keratin.

Nitric acid is an inorganic acid used as an oxidizer and stabilizer in cosmetics. It is a corrosive liquid that can irritate skin.

Mineral oil is a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum. It can increase the response of the skin to ultraviolet rays and can cause sunburn without any allergic effect being involved.

Even petroleum jelly, also a semisolid mixture of hydrocarbons, pollutes our water and destroys marine life. Avoiding them is essential for the health of humans, animals, fish, water, land and air.

Hydrocarbon is a synthetic chemical compound containing only carbon and hydrogen atoms. This large group includes paraffins, olefins, acetylenes, and alicyclic, and of course, petroleum. They are potentially allergenic and phototoxic as described above.

Sodium laurel sulfate is a popular ingredient used as a detergent, emulsifier, and surfactant in over a thousand cosmetic products including shampoos, toothpastes, lotions and creams. It may be labeled "natural" but it's not. And it is produced synthetically and is hardly ever made from coconut oil (even when the label says it is).

In a world with so many artificially produced ingredients it would be difficult to completely abandon all our fav products. But what we can all do is educate ourselves and eliminate or cut back our everyday bad products and replace them with natural and 100 percent ECCO certified organic ones. Do your research and know what's on the label.

Start by trying KOSMEA, an all-natural skincare line from shampoo, age-defying skin creams, to self tanner.

Buona giornata and God bless the United States of America!

Have you missed any of Mary's columns in the Post-Gazette? Read prior weeks' "All That Zazz" columns on her website She is a third-generation cosmetologist and owner of Mary for Nails, etc. natural nailcare salon in Andover, and a Massachusetts distributor of Kosmea brand rose hip oil products. She may be contacted at (978) 470-8183. She also sees select clients by appointment in Boston at (617) 742-6881.