May 23, 2006 | Paula Begoun has turned a childhood struggle into a highly lucrative career.
One of the country’s most sought after skin-care experts, Begoun’s early years were plagued by severe bouts of eczema and acne. “By the age of 20, I had used about every skin-care product known to humankind,” she said. Even after countless trips to a string of dermatologists, Begoun found no relief for her condition. “I eventually just had to outgrow it,” she said.
Begoun took her experience and turned it into a career, first by working at cosmetics counters and then by becoming a makeup artist. In 1984, she wrote her first book — “Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal” — and made her first appearance on “Oprah,” launching her into the national spotlight.
On May 18, Begoun was keynote speaker at a ladies luncheon at the
Following the luncheon, Begoun signed copies of her books, including the latest version of her bestseller “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me.” The author of 17 books, Begoun also owns an online cosmetics company and is a highly regarded consumer advocate.
There are three major mistakes that women make concerning beauty- and skin-care products, Begoun said. “First, we believe advertising claims. Then, we believe that more expensive products are better. Finally, we trust the notion that there is such a thing as an all-natural product, which there isn’t.”
Although the Food and Drug Administration made it mandatory starting in 1978 for cosmetics companies to include ingredient listings on their products, the industry is still largely unregulated, Begoun said. She added that many companies make outlandish claims for their products and simply begin new ad campaigns when their claims are challenged.
Begoun emphasized that there is one product that matters above all else when it comes to skin care: sunscreen. “About 60 percent to 80 percent of what we think of as aging is really sun damage,” she said.
She recommended using a moisturizer, foundation, pressed powder and even lipstick containing sunscreen. The most effective sunscreen, she added, protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
Begoun also touted the value of antioxidants, saying that they are proven to reduce inflammation and create new skin cells. Antioxidants can be found in foods such as blueberries, kidney beans, blackberries and artichokes. Vitamins C and E are also high in antioxidants.
As for the quality of expensive cosmetics, Begoun said they are generally not worth the extra money. “There are good and bad products in all price ranges,” she said, adding the consumers should beware of claims that sound too good to be true. “Don’t be seduced by a ‘miracle’ ingredient,” she said. “If there were really a product that can eliminate wrinkles, then no one would have wrinkles.”
ReCenter is a program of the Institute on Aging that offers lectures, events and educational activities for people of all ages. Topics include traditional health issues such as nutrition and exercise as well as nontraditional approaches to health care, including spirituality and mindfulness.
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