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New magazine warns about chemicals in cosmetics

ShopSmart, a new publication from the publishers of Consumer Reports, warns of hidden chemicals in cosmetics.

The winter issue cites phthalates, which it says may be linked to developmental and reproductive health risks. Phthalates can be found in lotions, hair sprays, perfumes and deodorants, yet often are not listed on product labels. The chemicals are used to help fragrances linger and take the stiffness out of hair spray, for example.

ShopSmart conducted independent tests for phthalates on eight fragrances, including Celine Dion Parfums Eau de Toilette Spray, Clinique Happy Perfume Spray, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds Eau de Parfum, Estee Lauder Beautiful Eau de Parfum Spray, Liz Claiborne Curve Eau de Toilette Spray and Christian Dior Poison Eau de Toilette Spray.

Also, Aubrey Organics Jade Spice Eau de Parfum and Aveda Love Pure-Fume Essence were tested, because the companies say they don't contain any phthalates, but ShopSmart found otherwise.

In fact, although none of the perfumes listed phthalates on their ingredient lists, they all contained them.

An industry trade group -- the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association -- says that government and scientific bodies in the U.S. and Canada have examined phthalates without restricting their use in cosmetics. But some companies have eliminated them due to public concern.

Until more is known, ShopSmart offers these tips:

- If you use perfume, consider skipping it every other day or drop it if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Seek out deodorants, hair sprays, body lotions and other products that don't list the word "fragrance" or "fragrance/parfum," which might indicate phthalates.

- Get the free "Shopper's Guide to Safe Cosmetics" at http://www.ewg.org/pdf/EWG_cosmetics.pdf and research products before purchasing. The Environmental Working Group site has safety ratings for more than 14,000 personal-care products at http://www.ewg.org/reports/skindeep/.

- Call or e-mail cosmetics companies to say you don't want ingredients that could pose avoidable health risks. Or go to http://safecosmetics.org.

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